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Carrier raises rates on malpractice coverage

About 2,500 doctors in Florida will pay an average of 45 percent more for the insurance.

By Associated Press
Published January 2, 2004

SARASOTA - A medical malpractice insurance carrier is raising its 2004 rates for Florida doctors by an average of 45 percent.

GE Medical Protective, which covers about 2,500 doctors - or about 5 percent of the state market - said the increase had been approved by the state Office of Insurance Regulation.

"When you think about how medical costs will rise in the future, it becomes apparent that the costs of providing medical care to a plaintiff years down the road are astronomical," said John Novaria, a spokesman for the Fort Wayne, Ind., company. "In order to meet those costs, we have to ask for higher premiums."

State regulators have approved only one other rate increase for a malpractice carrier: 8 percent for Jacksonville-based First Professionals Insurance Co., Florida's largest insurer of this kind, said Lisa Miller, an Office of Insurance Regulation spokeswoman.

First Professionals said its request could have been for a nearly 20 percent increase had there not been a recent law change limiting lawsuit damages in malpractice cases.

The Legislature earlier this year passed limits on some types of lawsuit losses in many medical malpractice cases in an effort to restore the market and stabilize premiums, which many doctors said were threatening their practices.

The law required insurers to factor in the new law, and regulators determined that their rate requests should be lower by about 8 percent on average because of the damage limits and other changes in the law.

Miller said MedPro's requested increase was justified.

"Their overall losses in this market justified the rate increase...," she said. "It really kind of brings them in line with the other carriers in the marketplace, and allows them to be able to continue to offer coverage."

Insurers have until Jan. 9 to submit their rate requests to the state, Miller said.

[Last modified January 2, 2004, 02:01:08]


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