Merger lets Doctors cut malpractice-insurance rates

San Francisco Business Times – by Chris Rauber

The Doctors Co., one of the nation’s largest medical malpractice insurers, has filed with state regulators for an average 18.2 percent rate reduction affecting California member physicians, officials said late last week.

Depending on medical specialty and geographic location, most California doctors covered by the Napa-based med-mal insurer will see rate reductions ranging from 10 percent to 30 percent, Doctors Co. said. The company has also requested approval from the California Department of Insurance to increase its “claims-free� discount from 12.5 percent to 17.5 percent for a number of surgical specialties, including general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery and thoracic/cardiovascular surgery.

Suzanne Meraz, a Doctors Co. spokeswoman, said the Department of Insurance has 60 days to respond, and typically takes at least 45 days to do so. Once it has regulatory approval, the company would have 90 days to implement the rate cut, Meraz said, “but our goal is to have it done by Jan. 1, 2009.�

In late June, Doctors Co. acquired Los Angeles-based SCPIE Cos., another major health-care liability insurer, increasing its California total to 19,000 physicians. It covers 43,000 member doctors nationally.

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