ISMIE Mutual Insurance Company, Illinois’ largest medical liability insurer, was founded in 1976 as a response to a boom in medical malpractice litigation that dragged the state into an insurance affordability crisis.
Prior to ISMIE, Illinois physicians had few liability insurance options. They could pay escalating premium prices, practice bare—without insurance—or participate in an underwriting program sponsored by the Illinois Department of Insurance. Because the agency had little interest in vigorously defending claims—instead simply passing the cost of claims on to the insured doctors—a consortium of physicians ultimately decided to fund their own doctor-run company with their own money.
When the state promised to accelerate licensing, the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) determined how much start-up money was necessary to launch and manage a workable company. More then 6,000 physicians sent in their medical liability insurance checks and became official physician-owners of the Illinois State Medical Inter-Insurance Exchange (ISMIE).
What made ISMIE different from other professional medical liability insurance companies was its dedication to vigorously fighting defensible claims, even though that avenue can be more expensive then simply settling claims. ISMIE also provided coverage for every specialty—regardless of risk level—or in which county the doctor practiced. (Cook County, Madison and St. Clair counties are consistently ranked as some of the worst and most expensive areas in the United States to obtain medical liability insurance.)
ISMIE managed costs by closely monitoring underwriting and requiring physicians, doctors and other healthcare professionals to take risk management classes and continuing education classes geared toward avoiding proven high-risk healthcare situations. And by employing an offensive claims defense, the company was able to discourage and ultimately limit the number of frivolous lawsuits brought to trial.
A quick look at ISMIE’s market share between 2006 and 2008 (see below) shows it is by far the largest professional medical liability insurance provider in Illinois. This success is derived from the company’s longstanding dedication to physicians, by physicians. ISMIE has a strong reputation in Illinois as the doctors’ advocate.
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