In the wake of the March 13, 2014 Florida Supreme Court ruling that a 2003 law limiting damages in medical-malpractice cases was deemed unconstitutional, a more difficult, “hard market” is predicted to hit Florida’s malpractice insurance market soon. What should we be considering in our medical practice to be prepared?
Just like creating a hurricane plan before the fury of a storm descends upon you, now is a good time to be positioning your practice for the impending malpractice insurance hard market that will be unfolding in the next few years. The best strategy can be broken down as follows:
Preventative Measures – Focus yourself and your entire practice team on risk management. The importance of including the staff in risk management discussions is often overlooked. Studies show that the friendlier your practice environment is, the lower your risk of a lawsuit. Many higher end malpractice insurers offer free self-assessment tools as well as risk management assessments of your practice including in-office observations and recommendations.
Review Your Malpractice Insurance Coverage – Have an experienced specialist to make sure you are on “high ground” when the storm unfolds. Ask your broker to shop your coverage to a number of rated insurers, bowever beware of the many offers from small, new, unrated insurance companies now offering coverage in Florida. The few strong insurers have the ability to withstand the upcoming market pressures because they are not highly leveraged, are not offering actuarially unsound rates, and have a long-term philosophy. Find those and you will be much better off when the high winds are pounding on your practice windows!
Utilize Negotiating Power – Many medical societies, networks, and hospitals have created malpractice insurance purchasing groups to give even smaller practices the negotiating power of larger ones. The Bays Medical Society’s Bays Liability Insurance Program is a great example.
Asset Protection Plans – Make sure that yours are up to date and if you need to transfer assets around, do so soon before many more claims get filed against doctors following the overturn of the 2003 caps on non-economic damages.
At Danna-Gracey, we are here to help if you need specific direction and recommendations on any of these suggestions.