Frequency and severity of claims, social inflation, and tort reform are the key drivers pushing malpractice carriers to seek increases during a hard market or reductions in a soft market.
While New York was slower to transition to the soft market of the past 20 years, the good news is that the same might be true of the significant increases we are now seeing in other states. As reported by the American Medical Association, “Rates that jumped 10% or more between 2020 and 2021 were reported in 12 states.”
See below for those states, listed with the share of comparisons reflecting increases of that size:
- Illinois: 58.9%
- West Virginia: 41.7%
- Missouri: 29.6%
- Oregon: 20%
- South Carolina: 16.7%
- Idaho: 11.1%
- Kentucky: 7.4%
- Delaware: 6.7%
- Washington: 6.7%
- Michigan: 5.4%
- Texas: 4.9%
- Georgia: 3.7%
Recent unprecedented trends have upended the predictability carriers rely on to maintain their financial strength. Prior to COVID-19, the number of shock losses rose at an alarming pace due to so-called social inflation in jury awards not seen in previous years. While carriers continued to lower pricing concurrent with the drop in frequency of claims, they had not factored in the drastic increase in payout amounts.
There is now a concern, post-COVID, that there will be a significant increase in the frequency of claims, making reduced rates unsustainable. There is also a belief that because many patients delayed routine tests and treatments during the pandemic, health complications will increase as conditions progress further than what we normally see.
Most states, even in the most competitive markets, are seeing a third straight year of overall rate hikes. New York lags behind due to less competitiveness and its Department of Financial Services, which exerts more stringent control on rate filings.
Admitted carriers like The Doctors Company, a newer entrant to the marketplace that’s still aggressively pursuing market share, reduced their rates at the end of last year in the central region. While the carrier MLMIC has held steady on rates, with some selective increases per specialty, it also filed discounts through risk purchasing groups to maintain a hold on their market share. On the non-admitted risk retention group side, expect to see some increases, but overall, these carriers will look to keep “good” accounts and maintain rate flexibility, unlike admitted carriers.
All of these factors are driving rate increases in other states. In New York, while some downstate regions are the most litigious in the country, Central New York is not immune either, making it a difficult market to navigate.
It Is Never Tenable to Leave Savings on the Table
As a buyer, it’s important to keep an eye on a carrier’s financials due to the stressors this market creates. It’s also important to engage the market and take advantage of potential savings while it is available. Working with an experienced professional who specializes in malpractice insurance allows you to test the market and avoid costly mistakes. Working with an insurance broker who has a deep understanding and insight into each carrier’s appetite and rate history is key.
While New York is in some ways less dynamic, it can be very difficult to navigate without strong carrier relationships across multiple companies. Be sure to reach out to a specialist before your renewal, even if it is only to review your current policy and confirm you are receiving all the new discounts available.
For more information on your insurance options, please contact Jenn Negley, Vice President, Risk Strategies Company at 267-251-2233 or JNegley@Risk-Strategies.com.
Jenn will be at the NY MGMA convention in Verona June 29–July 1.