The Doctors Company

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The Doctors Company (TDC)

The Doctors Company is a medical malpractice insurance company founded by a group of physicians in 1976. The company is based in Napa, Calif., and is still owned by its physician members. The Doctors Company, abbreviated TDC, has more than 45,000 clients from all 50 states. The company writes policies through its nine subsidiaries, covering physicians and other healthcare professionals working in a wide variety of clinical and hospital settings. TDC members own the company, and there are no outside stockholders; this allows the company to focus exclusively on the needs of its policyholders.

TDC has more than $3 billion in assets and a member surplus of more than $1 billion. In 2009, the company was named to Ward’s list of 50 top performing insurance companies for the sixth time. The company has been rated highly by independent rating agencies. Fitch Ratings gives a rating of A (Strong) and A.M. Best gives a rating of A- (Excellent). The outlook for the A.M. Best rating is positive, meaning that conditions point to an upgrade in the rating in the near future. These strong financial ratings reflect TDC’s healthy capitalization, operating performance and good market position, as well as its effective growth strategy of geographic expansion. In keeping with this strategy, TDC purchased Midwest regional malpractice insurer American Physicians Capital Inc. (AP Capital) in 2010, expanding its market presence in that region.

The Doctors Company has a history of meaningful involvement in tort reform efforts. The founders of the company were involved in the passing of the 1975 Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) in California, which was a response to the liability crisis in that state. Today, TDC continues to fight to enact tort reform legislation across the country, which can help control malpractice insurance premiums and keep physicians in practice.

TDC policies are written on a claims-made basis. This means that the policy covers only claims that are filed while the policy is effective. Conversely, an occurrence policy covers any incident that occurred during the policy’s effective period, regardless of whether coverage is effective when the claim is filed. This difference means that claims-made coverage must be held in perpetuity. Physicians must remain covered even when retiring, as a claim could be filed regarding an earlier incident. The extended coverage required in a situation like this is called a tail. The Doctors Company offers free tail as a courtesy to retiring physicians who have been insured with the company for five consecutive years.

In some states, an insurance company is not legally required to obtain the consent of a physician before settling a case on his or her behalf. If the insurance company does not include a “consent to settle” clause in its policies, it might exercise its right to settle a case without consent. This can be bad for physicians, as cases might be settled against their will, saving the insurance company money but damaging the physician’s professional reputation. All TDC policies include a full consent to settle clause.

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This write-up for The Doctors Company was put together by Michael Matray, the Editor of the Medical Liability Monitor