Medical Liability Monitor Publishes 2008 Annual Survey of Medical Liability Insurance Rates

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Medical LiabilityMonitor's October 2008 Rate Survey shows physicians' malpractice insurance premiums remain stable or continue to decline in 2008

Rates for physicians' liability insurance decreased for the large majority of physicians from their 2007 levels, according to Medical LiabilityMonitor's annual nationwide Rate Survey released this week.

This year's study found 49.9 percent of rates did not change between 2007 and 2008; in fact, 20.8 percent of rates experienced a 0.1- to 9.9-percent rate decrease. This continues the stabilizing trend found in the 2007 Rate Survey, where 53.1 percent of rates had not increased and 21 percent had experience a 0.1- to 9.9-percent decrease from the year prior. In 2006, rates also experienced a similar stabilizing effect, perhaps their first in recent history.

"Rates are clearly following a stabilizing trend, and in a significant number of cases, continue to decline from their historic highs of 2004 and 2005," said Michael Matray, Medical Liability Monitor editor.

Since 1991 Medical LiabilityMonitor, an independent newsletter, has been surveying the leading providers of medical professional liability insurance for its annual rate report. This year's survey reports rates from 40 companies that represent as much as 75 percent of the physician's malpractice insurance market. It is the most comprehensive report on physicians' liability insurance rates available.

"This year was the first in recent history where the overall average rate change showed a decline,"Matray said. "While in 2003, the average rate change was +20.4 percent, this year experienced a -4.3 percent change. This is an obvious continuation of the soft market that physicians' liability insurance has been experiencing the last three years."

The report also found that many companies believe competition is coming back to the market, citing the re-emergence of credits, lifting of new business moratoriums and fewer companies exiting states this year. However companies reported stricter underwriting standards as a way to control their risk.

The total number of reported rate decreases in 2008 was 310, or 43 percent of the total number of reported rates. No change was reported for 362 (50 percent) of all filed rates, and only 54 rates saw an increase--a scant 7 percent. The great majority of all increases (76 percent of them) was less than 10 percent.

Of the manual rate increases reported on the survey for this year, the magnitude of such increases ranged from less than 1 percent to nearly 40 percent. A breakdown of the rate increases into certain ranges is provided here:

  • There were no reported increases exceeding 50 percent;
  • Four reported increases between 25 and 49.9 percent;
  • Nine reported increases between 10 and 24.9 percent;
  • Forty-one reported increases between 0.1 and 9.9 percent

About half of all reported manual rates (362 of them) remained the same, slightly less than last year's 53 percent. Almost 43 percent of all filed rates were lowered within this past year, a nearly 13 point increase in the percentage of decreasing rates from 2007, and a 40.4 point increase over the corresponding values from the 2003 Rate Survey when only 2.3 percent of rate changes were reductions.

Companies report their mature claims-made manual insurance rates with limits of $1 million/$3 million in effect July 1. Rates reported are for three specialties: internists, general surgeons and obstetricians/gynecologists.

Once again, Dade County, Fla., reported the highest rates in the country with OB/Gyns and general surgeons paying as much as $238,728 for coverage, an decrease of 4 percent from last year. Internists in Dade County also pay the most, as much as $54,710, the same dollar amount as last year. Some internists inMinnesota have the lowest rates in the country, paying $3,375, a rate that did not increase from last year.Minnesota general surgeons also pay the least of their specialty, $11,306, the same as last year; obstetrician/gynecologists in the state pay as low as $17,166, which is a 17 percent decrease from last year.

Medical LiabilityMonitor is the only independent publication reporting exclusively on medical professional liability insurance, The monthly newsletter, founded in 1975, has conducted the annual rate survey since 1991. To order the rate survey or to subscribe, go to, or call 312-944-7900.

Complete Rate Survey available to the press upon request.


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Mike Matray
Medical Liability Monitor
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