When you’re shopping around for malpractice insurance, price is always a key consideration. In fact, it’s usually the FIRST thing doctors look at when they’re given multiple quotes from different carriers. But beyond price, what ELSE should you be looking for in a quality malpractice insurance policy? If the rates are relatively similar, what makes one option better than another? And is there ever a time when it’s worth paying MORE for a policy? Today we’re going to give you a list of 5 key things to look at besides price to make sure that you’re getting the best protection for your hard-earned dollar.
So, let’s say you’ve taken our advice and you’ve done a thorough review of the malpractice market and now you’ve narrowed your options down to 2 or 3 quotes. Which one do you choose? Well, while the cost of the policy is certainly important, there are several other factors to consider before deciding which policy is the right fit for you. Let’s take a look at 5 of the most important things together…
1. WHO THE CARRIER IS
First, it’s important that you’re looking at WHO THE CARRIER IS. How long have they been in business? What states do they write in? What is their financial rating? Are they a strong, solid company that you can trust for the long haul?
Longevity and financial stability are critical factors when comparing one insurance company to another, since their viability directly impacts YOUR coverage. If you buy insurance from a company that is not financially stable, you run the risk of that company going under and you being uninsured in the future.
It’s important that you’re aligning yourself with a quality carrier that has experience and a strong balance sheet to help you rest assured that you’re going to have the protection you need, when you need it.
Additionally, it’s important for you to know what states the insurance company writes in. Even if you’re only planning on working in 1 location for now, it’s important for you to know the capabilities of the carrier that you’re selecting – in the event that your scope of practice increases in the future. With telemedicine on the rise, it’s worth asking the question to see what other states the carrier covers so that you can determine if they’re the right long-term fit for your practice.
2. WHAT POLICY TYPES DO THEY OFFER?
It’s important for you to look at the available policy types that each carrier has to offer. Do they offer Occurrence, as well as Claims-Made coverage? Do they have any other unique coverage options such as modified or enhanced Claims-Made that you should be aware of? Knowing the policy types that the carriers have to offer will help you make an educated decision when looking at options and it will help you narrow down your selection based on the availability of the type of product that you want.
Keep in mind that every carrier will have a standard Claims-Made option, but Occurrence and special Claims-Made policies with pre-paid tail are not available with every company. So, pay special attention to this when you’re comparing quotes among potential insurers.
3. HOW EXPERIENCED IS THE CLAIMS AND DEFENSE TEAM?
At the end of the day, the reason why you carry malpractice insurance is to protect you in case you’re sued for alleged harm. For that reason, a company’s claim experience and their trial win rate is incredibly important for you to consider, because it shows you how good they are at doing just that.
You want to see a carrier that has experienced claim adjusters who have handled a lot of cases. You also want to see a trial win rate of at least 90%. I’d also suggest that you ask which defense firms they use. A good malpractice insurance company will only use the very best firms in the area. And if you have a particular defense attorney that you prefer to use, be sure to ask if you have the flexibility to request an attorney of your choice.
4. DO THEY OFFER PURE CONSENT TO SETTLE?
The all-important issue of consent to settle is one that we’ve talked about in many previous episodes (we’ll link one of our most popular consent episodes for you here on the screen and in the show notes, in case you’d like to re-visit this topic again). But when it comes to comparing one quote to the next, you definitely need to know if you have the final say when it comes to the way your claims are handled. You want to make sure that you have a policy with pure consent to settle – which means that the carrier must obtain YOUR direct, written consent before they are allowed to settle any claim on your behalf.
If you’re buying a policy without consent – or a policy with very squirrely consent language, then you’re giving the insurance company complete control over how your case is managed. Claims can be settled, even if you don’t agree to it, and you can end up with losses on your record and cases being reported to the National Practitioner Databank – all because you didn’t do your research up front to make sure you were buying the right kind of policy. So don’t sleep on this key factor for your malpractice coverage.
5. WHAT OTHER RESOURCES, PERKS, OR VALUE-ADDED SERVICES DO THEY OFFER?
Most malpractice carriers offer Risk Management support and education to their insureds – and some do it better than others. Quality carriers will give you a designated risk consultant, who is specifically assigned to your practice to help you navigate difficult patient interactions, help you establish policies and procedures, learn how to discharge a problem patient, and more.
Risk management services might also include in-person risk assessments for your practice, educational courses, CME offerings, and other benefits to help you reduce the likelihood of a malpractice claim, so be sure to ask about these types of options when you’re comparing quotes.
There are also “Perks” that might make one carrier more appealing than another. When you’re comparing companies, check to see if they have any dividend offerings, loyalty programs, or retirement savings accounts that you may benefit from.
Mutual companies typically offer dividends to their policyholders and many times these dividends can be significant. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a check from your malpractice insurance company, where they actually share their profits with you?
Many carriers also offer loyalty or retirement savings accounts, where the company actually puts aside a portion of your premium each year so that you build up a nice little balance that you can cash out when you reach retirement age. Sometimes these balances can be significant after many years with the same carrier. We’ve seen payouts of $10K, $20K, and even up to $30K so it’s definitely a perk that you want to be aware of as you’re comparing your options.
Beyond the financial incentives that we’ve mentioned, it’s important for you to consider any other programs or offerings that your practice may benefit from, such as free subscriptions, emotional support programs for doctors who are going through a claim, adverse outcome stipend programs, clinical tools, and other resources.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO MAKE THESE CHOICES ALONE
All of these factors can make a big difference when you’re deciding which malpractice insurance carrier is best, so it’s worth the time to review each option thoughtfully.
If you need help comparing all of this information as you’re looking at your malpractice insurance quote options, a knowledgeable agent will be your best resource. Not only can they help you navigate the carrier options and help you look at each of these key areas, but they can also provide you with other anecdotal feedback – such as information on which company is easiest to work with, which ones are quick with their turnaround times, etc.