Prior to tort reform in 2003, Florida was branded as a highly unfavorable state for both doctors and med mal carriers. Among the riskiest counties to practice included Dade County, Broward County Palm Beach County because they generated the most claims. Comparatively, physicians practicing in Florida paid much more for the same coverage than those practicing in the same field but outside the state. For this reason, many doctors decided to go “bare”. In other words, a physician chooses to practice without the security of medical malpractice insurance. In order for a physician to be able to practice without malpractice insurance, they must follow certain conditions.
- Post bond
- Establish an escrow account
- Obtain an irrevocable letter of credit
- Hang a sign outside their office to inform patients that they don’t carry insurance
After 2003 tort reforms significantly reduced the number of malpractice claim filings and award amounts, Florida medical malpractice insurance companies are now offering malpractice insurance to physicians and other health professionals. These types of insurance plans do not require you to pay exorbitant premiums. The overturning of the 2003 reforms in 2014 and 2015, however, had introduced some uncertainty into the market.
Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform in Florida
For over 30 years, Florida has suffered out-of-control medical malpractice claims that produced huge windfalls for plaintiffs and their attorneys — without fairly resolving fault and compensation. Beginning in the 1980s, Florida's state legislators have managed to pass several tort reform packages that slowly stopped residents from taking advantage of the jury system. Included in recent tort reforms are limitations on punitive damages, capping non-economic damages, and creating shorter deadlines in which to file a medical malpractice claim.
In 2003, significant tort reforms were introduced in Florida. They placed caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. In most cases, caps were limited to $500,000, but in some cases, awards of $1.5 million were permitted depending on the defendants and the plaintiffs involved.
In 2013, the Florida House of Representatives approved several tort reforms that positively affected medical malpractice claims and helped reduce the high cost of Florida malpractice insurance. Included among these tort reforms is the necessity for plaintiffs to engage expert witnesses who practice in the same medical field as the defendant. Physicians also have the right to consult with an attorney when being sued for malpractice.
In 2014, Florida overturned caps on malpractice insurance payments in wrongful death cases. The move stemmed from a case involving a woman who passed away after childbirth. During her family’s legal case, the judge assigned to the case spent a considerable amount of time examining data about medical malpractice awards and discussing where a malpractice insurance crisis was taking place in the state. Ultimately, in March, the Florida Supreme Court decided to overturn previous tort reforms and remove caps on noneconomic damages.
By 2015, the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management was reporting that Florida had the highest loss rate in the country for settling medical malpractice claims. Settling and defending these cases in the state cost 2.9 times the national average. That year, the 4th District Court of Appeal in Florida deemed caps for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases was unconstitutional.
Retroactively Applying Tort Reform Is Unfair to the Plaintiff
Physicians should be aware of a court case dealing with tort reform laws. When plaintiffs Miles and Haynes filed a lawsuit against surgeon Dr. Daniel Weingrad for performing unnecessary cancer surgery on Miles, which produced severe complications, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Miles' compensation should not be capped by tort reform laws established after the surgery. Applying such statutes, according to the court, would be unfair to Miles or any other plaintiff in the same situation.
Medical Malpractice Carriers
Since the approval of tort reform, Florida has seen substantial growth in many sectors of its medical malpractice insurance market. It has become the fifth largest market based on direct written premium; of which 80% of the total written premium is comprised of 22 carriers, an increase from years past.
A previously unavailable policy option, known as a consent to settle provision, has been approved and made effective as of October 2011. A consent-to-settle provision allows the insured physician more control with regard to the outcome of a claim. The insurance company cannot force a settlement but instead must obtain a written consent to settlement from the physician. In short, if the physician wants to fight through a jury trial then the insurance company will fight.”
Among other policy options carriers in Florida offer include:
- Claims-made maturity of 5 years
- Incident coverage trigger
- Defense costs outside the limits of liability
- Unlimited tail length
Although physicians have the option of choosing higher limits, many choose to carry limits of $250,000/$750,000. Hospitals allow doctors more privileges if they choose the lower limits. Other limits of liability offered in Florida include per claim limits of $1,000,000 and an aggregate limit of $3,000,000.
- The Doctors Company
- MAG Mutual Insurance Company
- ProAssurance Insurance Group
- FD Insurance Company
- Medical Protective Company
Get Medical Malpractice Coverage Today
Without malpractice insurance, Florida surgeons and physicians are at risk for suffering devastating financial loss as a result of frivolous malpractice suits. Even with tort reforms firmly in place, health and medical professionals may still need Florida malpractice insurance for protection against individuals who try to take advantage of the court system.
Don't wait until a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed against you or your practice. Call Gallagher Healthcare today to request a free medical malpractice quote in Florida.
Florida Medical Malpractice Insurance Rates - Top 15 Specialties
Undiscounted State Filed Rate Data averages across all territories for $250K / $750K limits
* Please note that the above rates are state filed rates. It is not
uncommon for Gallagher Healthcare clients to receive up to 50% or more in discounts
from state filed rates. Please Request a Quote to receive a custom premium indication.
|Specialty||Average Rate||Min Rate||Max Rate||Count
|Internal Medicine No Surgery||$16,761||$6,986||$28,136||19885
|Family Practice No Surgery||$15,506||$6,289||$28,136||11166
|Pathology No Surgery||$15,063||$6,793||$25,398||6583
|Radiology - Diagnostic||$24,802||$9,851||$51,270||6372
|Obstetrics and Gynecology Major Surgery||$76,452||$33,966||$118,405||4490
|Pediatrics No Surgery||$14,546||$7,488||$28,136||2896
|Orthopedic Surgery No Spine||$42,087||$15,749||$70,341||2605
|Dermatology No Surgery||$9,753||$4,992||$19,695||1785
|Cardiovascular Disease Minor Surgery||$25,651||$12,907||$42,275||1435
|Ophthalmology Major Surgery||$18,525||$7,812||$30,950||1379
Rate Range by Specialty
This chart compares the range of possible state filed medical malpractice premium rates by admitted markets and a few Gallagher Select markets broken out by the top 15 specialties in Florida.
USA Ranking Map
The map below provides a visual display of the nation and compares what a typical primary care physician might pay compared to each individual state and county. This research is based on the average rate for a single specialty, the most common limits in that state, and the mature claims made premium. The darker the blue, the higher the average premium, see how Florida compares to other states.