As a medical professional, even the simplest of mistakes can jeopardize your future.
This, among many other factors, underscores the importance of medical malpractice insurance.
This week we're taking a closer look at the medical malpractice insurance coverage offered by The Doctors Company.
The Doctors Company is the nation’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer. It has roughly 80,000 members and over $4 billion in assets.
Perhaps the greatest strength of The Doctors Company is its physician ownership. Rather than being beholden to shareholders, it puts the needs of those it insures — its members — first.
The Doctors Company goes beyond insurance, too. It also serves as a strong advocate for its members in the political and legal arenas.
To understand the success of The Doctors Company, it helps to understand its roots.
In the 1970s, California experienced a wave of malpractice lawsuits and jury awards. This led to exponential increases in malpractice insurance rates. Some physicians faced non-renewals from their insurers.
To combat this trend, California passed major tort reform legislation. At the same time, The Doctors Company emerged as of one of several new physician-led malpractice insurance companies. Their sole focus would be to meet the needs of medical professionals.
To this day, The Doctors Company is run by physicians for physicians.
At the end of 2017, The Doctors Company had:
- More than $4.8 billion in assets.
- A member surplus of more than $2.1 billion.
(This is believed to be the strongest of any national physician-owned medical liability carrier.)
It reported a written premium-to-surplus ratio of 0.33:1. This ratio is a measure of financial strength based on net written premium. Industry standards dictate a ratio of no higher than 3:1.
Another strong indicator is the company’s reserves-to-surplus ratio, which was 0.89:1 at the end of 2017. Industry standards dictate that insurers maintain a ratio less than 4:1.
Given its strong financials, The Doctors Company is rated “A” by both A.M. Best Company and Fitch Ratings.
As a member-owned insurer, The Doctors Company regularly pays dividends to those it insures. In March 2018, it declared a 2018 premium dividend of $19 million. Since 1976, the company has paid out more than $415 million in dividends.
Features offered by The Doctors Company include:
Free tail coverage. Available to members (of at least five continuous years) upon retirement, disability or death. Tail coverage allows you to report claims in the future --- even after the policy period has ended. Any future claims on incidents that occurred while the policy was in effect will be covered.
Legal representation. A standard inclusion on the company's malpractice policy is MediGuard. This provides the insured with legal aid for administrative actions brought by:
- Medical licensing boards.
- Credentialing reviews and actions.
- Professional review organizations.
- Federal agencies regarding EMTALA.
- The DEA.
Cyber liability protection. The company’s core coverage includes its CyberGuard feature. This protects you against claims arising from the theft, loss or accidental transmission of patient information. It includes the cost of fines, penalties and data recovery.
The Doctors Company offers several premium credits and discounts. Are you a member of any of the following professional associations?
- American College of Surgeons (ACS).
- American College of Cardiology (ACC).
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS).
- American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery(AAO-HNS).
If so and you have a favorable claims history, you could qualify for a 5 percent premium discount. This can even increase to 25 percent if you remain claims-free.
ACC members can earn additional premium savings up to 10 percent through two two of the following programs:
- Maintaining board certification.
- Participating in the PINNACLE Registry®.
- Completing the Patient Safety and Risk Management Self-Assessment Program (SAP) providing 12 CME credits.
Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) members can qualify for a 7.5 percent premium discount. SMH members who remain claims-free may receive an additional credit of up to 25 percent. They are also eligible for a 5 percent risk management credit by completing five online modules related to hospital quality and patient safety.
Oncologists certified by the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) are eligible for discounts up to 10 percent.
The Doctors Company also has premium credit programs for:
- Orthopedic surgeons.
The program is available to those employed at hospitals, facilities or single-specialty practices with 5 to 25 physicians. Eligibility relies on your:
- Claims history.
- Board certification.
- Completion of a CME-approved curriculum and a customized quality improvement program.
- Program credits of 10 percent
- Claims-free credits of up to 25 percent
- Premium discounts of 20 percent for your midwives, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurse anesthetists, and surgical assistants
The Doctors Company has been a key player in the malpractice insurance industry for decades. But that doesn't mean they are the right fit for every doctor. In weighing your options, it helps to familiarize yourself with:
- The Doctors Company's history of financial strength.
- The pros and cons of its medical malpractice insurance coverage.
- The specialty discounts and premium credit programs that area available.
Jack is a Creighton University graduate and former advertising creative who has written extensively about topics in personal finance, employee benefits, and technology. You can find Jack's writing on Calendar.com, StartupNation, and Muck Rack.