BY WES MERRITT
Over the last 22 years I have specialized in medical malpractice insurance. In that time, I have been the president of a malpractice insurance company, senior vice president for one of the world’s largest insurance brokerages and a 2016 “Power Broker” finalist in Insurance and Brokers Magazine.
My experiences have given me a unique insight into the relationship between doctors, brokers and insurance companies, and I have seen countless changes to the NY Medical Malpractice insurance market. New York is vastly different today than it was even a year ago, and companies, coverages and premiums are changing regularly.
Historically, New York has essentially had two stand-out medical malpractice insurance carriers, MLMIC and PRI. Until fairly recently, those two companies accounted for insuring approximately 80 to 85 percent of New York doctors.
Doctors have become accustomed to receiving renewal bills from those carriers and just paying the premium without looking at their options. In many cases, doctors don’t even know that they have options or are reluctant to hear them.
Many have the thought that if they never had a problem with their carrier, “why look elsewhere?” The answer is to potentially save premium and/or get more comprehensive coverage.
In recent years, new carriers such as MedPRO, Coverys, ProAssurance and others have come to the New York market and are offering excellent coverage and premium options. These new carriers are Risk Retention Groups (RRGs).
RRGs are domiciled in other states and are licensed to do business in New York. However, these entities are not “Admitted Carriers” and are not regulated by the State Insurance Department like MLMIC and PRI. Therefore, they do not have the protections of the NY Guaranty Fund, but they do have the financial backing and protection of national, top-rated insurance companies.
As “Non-Admitted” carriers, these RRGs have more underwriting flexibility and can offer more significant discounts to qualified doctors. One example is that the same doctor can receive a premium discount in excess of 35 percent from one carrier and no more than 12.5 percent from another, if they have never had a claim reported against them.
Understanding the details of each company’s rating rules and guidelines is where a broker can be the most effective. A doctor’s practice is constantly changing, whether it’s new staff, new procedures being performed, perhaps a new claim being opened or closed and so on.
Doctors should be open to work with an insurance professional and get in the habit of looking at their options on a regular basis, because as their practice changes, so could the best insurance company option.
As a broker, Merritt Insurance Services and its colleagues can help doctors find the best malpractice options for them and their practice and there is no cost involved. Whether a doctor works with a broker or not, the premium they pay to an insurance company is the same. A broker will get a commission from the insurance companies directly.
With access to New York’s top insurance companies, doctors can be sure that they are seeing the best options available. Even if a doctor is looking for an insurance professional and advocate to work with their existing carrier, that can be done as well.
Medical malpractice insurance is an enormously important piece of every practice and should not overlooked from a premium or coverage perspective. The current market for New York doctors allows for more options than ever before. Every carrier is not for every doctor and vise versa, but every doctor has a best fit based on their practice and experience. Our goal is to help you find your best fit.
If you would like to benefit from the services offered by Merritt Insurance Services and its colleagues, contact Wes Merritt at (516) 946-7388 or visit MerrittInsServices.com where you can download a quick quote form or schedule a complimentary coverage review.
Wes Merritt is president of Merritt Insurance Services, Inc.