New Study Shows Falling Claims and Rising Premiums for Physicians Insurance

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

For Release:
November 1, 2005
Contact: Laurie Beacham or Joanne Doroshow, CJ&D
Bill Daley, (WA Citizen Action),             360/970-1639      
New Study Shows Falling Claims and Rising Premiums for Physicians Insurance
A new report based on data filed with the Washington insurance commissioner’s office indicates that total claims payments by Washington’s largest malpractice insurer have declined over the last 10 years, even before accounting for inflation.
The Report, “An Analysis of the Claims Payments and Performance of Physicians Insurance, A Mutual Company,” was released today by Washington Citizen Action and the Center for Justice & Democracy, a national non-profit consumer organization.  The report is based on data filed by Physicians Insurance, which writes more than half of all medical malpractice insurance sold in Washington.  The data were compiled directly from the financial statements Physicians Insurance has filed with the Washington Office of Insurance Commissioner for the last ten years, as well as for the first half of 2005.  The information set forth in the Report includes the company’s premiums, losses, number of claims paid each year, and average claim size each year. 
Over the last ten years, according to the Report, 

  • Physicians’ total claims payments in Washington declined by 19%;
  • The number of claims Physicians paid in Washington declined by 23%;
  • Physicians’ surplus increased by 49%;
  • Physicians’ premiums increased by 99%.

In addition, according to the Report, Physicians’ ten most recent Annual Statements indicate that Physicians has historically paid out 39% less on a given year’s policies than it projected it would pay out.
 “The data in this Report, which were compiled from statements filed under oath with the commissioner’s office, make clear that Physicians’ Insurance is taking in too much, not paying out too much,” said Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director of the Center for Justice & Democracy.  “To reduce malpractice rates, the state should adopt standards that malpractice insurers must follow in setting their rates.  Otherwise, rates can rise even when claims payments are falling, as is the case in Washington today.”
The Report was researched and written by former Missouri insurance commissioner Jay Angoff for the Center for Justice and Democracy. A copy can be found at

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