Tag Archives: New Jersey

New Jersey CEO happy with his medical malpractice insurance

How I Helped a Client in a Time Crunch Get Medical Malpractice Insurance in New Jersey

As someone who specializes in medical malpractice insurance, every day can be an exciting day as the worlds of medicine, insurance and the law all smash together — not to mention egos and hurt feelings. A great example is when I helped a company get its medical malpractice insurance in New Jersey.

I had a very interesting interaction the Spring of 2019. The CEO of a medium-sized locums company that specializes in radiology, general medicine and cardiology in Newark, N.J., contacted us in a panic. His current insurance company had elected to exit the medical malpractice insurance business and was notifying all of its insureds that they were going to be non-renewed.

What made this interesting is that the CEO represented an atypical practice. The locums company contracted with hospitals and universities to provide physicians on an as-needed basis. This also included a telemedicine component.

The CEO went on to tell me that his current agent had not provided an alternative option even though he had contacted them two months ago. The locums company was running out of time as their insurance policy’s expiration was fast approaching. He continued to tell me that he had reached out to another agent for help about a week ago. This caused another ripple as the new agent had the CEO sign an appointment letter, or BOR (broker of record). This removed his current agent as the agent on file with the insurance companies the original agent was working with.

The CEO then received an angry call from his original agent. The CEO tried to explain to the original agent that he was nervous since they were running out of time to find coverage and wanted to see if anyone else could help. He didn’t know the BOR would remove the original agent.

The original agent explained that he no longer wanted to do business with this CEO. The agent went even further by sending a letter to the CEO asking him to find a new agent for their other lines of insurance, which was their workers comp and business office package. Since this policy didn’t renew until the summer, I explained that we will handle the professional liability first and then deal with the general, property and workers comp afterwards.

Medical malpractice insurance is handled at the state level and New Jersey’s medical malpractice insurance climate can be unpredictable. I calmly explained to the CEO why they were running into so much trouble. A lot of the problem had to do with the fact that the original agent didn’t have access to many other insurance companies and didn’t inform the CEO of this. The agent he recently signed the appointment letter with also didn’t have access to many different companies, so their options were limited as well.

I explained to him that I wouldn’t have them sign a BOR for the companies they are waiting to hear back from. I shared with them the step-by-step process we were going to take in order to accomplish the task before the expiration date. After explaining that I would exhaust the marketplace and find an option, he quickly started to gather all of the documents to send to me.

After only 20 minutes, I could hear a sense of relief from the CEO as they finally felt they were on the right path. They also started to ask more important questions, such as how do they know they are going with the right insurance company? How much medical malpractice insurance do they need? How much will the malpractice tail be?

About four days after submitting their documentation to all insurance companies who specialize in medical malpractice insurance, we received a competitive offer from an A rated company.

The CEO was ecstatic. He couldn’t believe they were looking at a medical malpractice quote for his doctors so quickly after speaking with me. There were only two days left to secure the new policy at this point.

What helped turn this problem around so quickly is that I collected a lot of details about who they were, what they were doing and the situation they were in. Having all of the details really helps the underwriters at the insurance companies.

We try and follow the same path with everyone, which is to listen to their situation and concerns, and provide a clear path forward — explaining each step along the way. In addition, it’s vital to provide context so they understand the back and forth of underwriting a medical malpractice insurance policy.

Are you looking for medical malpractice insurance in New Jersey? Or any other state? Call 708-848-2300 and ask for David Leander and we’ll discuss all your options.

More than Half of All Medical Malpractice Indemnity Payments Were Made by Six States

A recently released study of all medical malpractice payments made in 2011 indicates that six states accounted for more than half of all medical malpractice indemnifications. The analyzed data came from the National Practitioner Data Bank

That is an astonishing statistic. Which six states accounted for more than half of all medical malpractice indemnity payments is not a surprise. The highest malpractice payout was New York, followed by Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida and California.

Not coincidentally, the states with the highest medical malpractice indemnity payments also have some of the highest medical malpractice insurance premiums. In some parts of New York and Florida, an obstetrician can be paying in excess of $200,000 in annual base rate medical liability premium.

Looking at base rate premiums in California, one can see how tort reform can keep medical malpractice insurance premiums affordable. While California paid out the sixth largest dollar total in medical liability indemnity, its medical malpractice insurance rates are comparatively inexpensive. An obstetrician practicing in the state’s most expensive county (Los Angeles County) for medical malpractice insurance can pay as little as $38,050 in base rate premium. The most expensive annual base rate premium in Los Angeles County hovers around $80,000. Compared to New York and Florida, those numbers are a steal.

The California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) has long been the gold standard in medical liability tort reform. Enacted in 1975, the law caps non-economic, pain-and-suffering damages at $250,000. The law also has other requirements that are intended to weed out frivolous lawsuits.

Other interesting statistics found in the study of 2011 medical malpractice payments include:

• The six states that make up the bottom of the malpractice indemnity payments (South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, North Dakota and Alaska) make up less than 1 percent of of total payouts.

• Slightly more than 36 percent of all medical malpractice indemnity payments are made to patients age 40 to 59 ($1.3 billion) , followed by patients age 20 to 30 ($786.3 million).

• In total, 58 percent of all medical malpractice indemnity payments were made to women; 42 percent of all indemnity payments were made to men.

• Medical malpractice indemnity payments have been declining since 2003.

• The total dollar amount of 2011 medical malpractice indemnity payments were slightly less than they were in 2010.

New Jersey Judges can reduce Jury verdicts based upon the “Feel of the Case”

side note: Wow. This is a new wrinkle in the New Jersey judicial system.

For the longest time, the argument against caps on non-economic damages was that they violated a plaintiff’s right to a jury trial, where the jury decides compensation. Here, a judge can invalidate or adjust a medical malpractice jury verdict simply on his or her “feel for the case.” And because — in theory — each judge could have a different feel for a case, this new wrinkle offers no advantage of predictability, which medical professional liability insurers say helps them predict losses and keep malpractice insurance premiums down.

The author also argues that this new wrinkle could have the opposite of its intended effect, and actually increase the number of medical malpractice cases that go to trial.

New Jersey’s Supreme Court recently issued an opinion that allows judges to reduce jury verdicts based upon their “feel of the case.” He v. Miller, A-81-09. On its face, this is in stark contrast to the “shocks the conscience” standard we usually see applied when a defendant moves for reduction of the jury’s damages award, so it is fair to wonder if this ruling signals a dramatic shift in response to rising jury awards. Do trial judges in New Jersey now have the green light to substitute their opinion on case value for that of the jury in any case? The Supreme Court wrote that trial judges have an understanding of the “wide range” of acceptable verdicts under a given set of facts, giving at the very least tacit approval to the notion that a certain set of facts, or a certain injury, corresponds with a certain range of potential verdicts. The question remains how much deference appellate courts will give to the trial court’s determination of what that acceptable range is, and how those courts will address variations from trial judge to trial judge in what they see as an acceptable jury verdict range for a given general set of facts.

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NJ Likely to Face Physician Shortage

Side Note: New Jersey is having a hard time attracting new physicians to its state and for good reason. In an era when practicing medicine is hard enough –with looming Medicare cuts, administrative headaches like transitioning to electronic medical records, the cost of physician liability coverage along with the constant threat of med mal lawsuits, and massive student loans –New Jersey needs to do what it can to make itself more appealing to young physicians.

A 2009 study conducted by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals predicted that by 2020 the state will be 2,800 doctors short. The study was an exit survey of New Jersey medical school residents and found that only 32% of them planned on staying in the state and setting up a medical practice there. This number was down from 50% in recent years, which was still considered low.

In short, New Jersey is not very financially welcoming to new physicians. First, when compared to other states, New Jersey lags in its Medicaid reimbursement rates. The rates have only been increased once or twice in the past fifty years and are low compared to other states. Second, New Jersey is not known for its loan repayment programs. Third, New Jersey is a high tax state. With so many financial burdens that new physicians face, having to pay high taxes on what you do end up making is the final blow. On top of all of that, New Jersey also has a reputation for having a lot of red tape in general for physicians. Finally, New Jersey could benefit from tort reform. Currently, there are no limits on med mal damages in the state. However, the one piece of good news is that New Jersey med mal policy premiums have generally been holding steady or slightly decreasing over the past few years.

Would you like to lower your New Jersey liability insurance rates? If so, complete our free, no-obligation quote request today.

N.J. faces growing shortage of doctors due to med school costs, insurance concerns
Published: Sunday, February 06, 2011, 8:36 PM Updated: Monday, February 07, 2011, 1:34 PM from NJ.com
By Robert Stern/For The Times

New Jersey faces a widening shortage of physicians within the next nine years, without reforms that improve the business environment to practice medicine in the state and funding to help make medical school more affordable, health-care industry experts are warning.

“New Jersey’s business and health-care leaders must partner with our legislators and key policymakers to make our state a friendlier environment for our physicians,” said Patricia Costante, CEO of Lawrence-based malpractice insurance provider MDAdvantage.

Original article can be found here.

Bill in NJ seeks to Curb Lawyer Solicitation

Side note: There is a new bill currently being debated by legislators in New Jersey. The bill, if passed, would establish a waiting period of 30 days for lawyers who would solicit defendants and accident victims through the mail. As it is now if you are issued a ticket you can expect to receive solicitations from lawyers in the days immediately following the issuance of the ticket. These solicitations are often constructed in a way as to scare the recipient into thinking that they “must” have legal representation or face the possibility of harsh fines or jail time. Victims of accidents, and medical malpractice, also receive similar mailings urging them to seek legal consul. Opponents of these mailings categorize them as “ambulance chasing via the US postal service”. Opponents speculate that these mailings are one of the factors contributing to the exceptionably high medical malpractice litigation rate in New Jersey. Proponents of the mail solicitations content that they should have the same right to contact an accident victim as the insurance company. New Jersey is facing a medical malpractice crisis. Sky-high medical malpractice insurance rates are forcing doctors to move their practices to neighboring states in an attempt to lower cost.

By James Osborne
Inquirer Staff Writer

Marcus Rayner was pulled over for speeding in North Jersey recently, and within days he had received a half-dozen letters from lawyers all over the state seeking to represent him.
Rayner, of Lambertville, heads a group advocating tort reform, so he knows how the game is played.

“I don’t find it offensive, but I can see how someone would,” he said. “It’s more of a personal-privacy issue.”

For decades there have been efforts to limit lawyers’ ability to solicit and advertise for clients, but those attempts have run up against court rulings that largely uphold their right to do so.

Now, New Jersey legislators are considering bills that would force lawyers and other professionals to wait 30 days before contacting defendants and accident victims whose information was drawn from public-records searches.

Most states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, prohibit lawyers from soliciting clients in person or over the telephone but make exception for the mail.

“It’s a consumer-protection issue,” said State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D., Union), a civil-litigation lawyer who sponsored the Senate bill. “We get calls from numerous people complaining about this. And it’s not just attorneys; it’s health-care professionals, investigators, chiropractors. It’s a pretty unseemly practice.”

Read the Rest of the Article

New Jersey Makes it Hard for Doctors to do Business

Side note: Doctors in New Jersey face a double-edge sword of litigiousness. The state’s weak evidentiary standards make them vulnerable as both doctors, and as small business owners. Research shows that 1 in 5 small businesses in New Jersey will be sued. This, coupled with sky-high medical malpractice insurance rates, creates a hostile environment that is driving many doctors out of the state.

State’s doctors need tort reform
MyCentralJersey.com

November 9, 2010

New Jersey’s medical professionals often wear multiple hats. In addition to practicing medicine in a state with comparatively high medical malpractice premiums and weak evidentiary standards, our shrinking pool of doctors are often small business owners who must navigate New Jersey’s challenging business climate. Think of your dentists, general practitioners and gynecologists.

It’s a difficult climate for any small business to operate in New Jersey, but doctors in private practice feel the effect of New Jersey’s abused civil justice system both as small business owners and as physicians.

Read the Rest of the Story over at MyCentralJersey.com

Medical malpractice debated while doctor shortage continues in N.J.

Side note: Doctors and key medical groups in New Jersey say the time for medical malpractice reform is now. They blame the state’s shortage of doctors on out of control medical malpractice litigation. Proponents of reform claim that the state’s current malpractice laws leave one of the state’s largest employers, the pharmaceutical companies, in jeopardy of litigation. They also blame the liberal laws for driving the medical malpractice insurance premiums for doctors’ sky high. All physicians are encouraged to request a free medical malpractice insurance quote. We have the lowest prices available nationwide, you can switch anytime! Current medical malpractice rates for New Jersey can be found on our site.

New Jersey News Room

With New Jersey facing a worsening shortage of physicians, key medical and business groups say it’s time for the Legislature and Gov. Christie’s to take action on medical malpractice reform.

Proponents of reform, such as the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance and the New Jersey Hospital Association, are stepping up their lobbying, according to an article at NJSpotlight.com. They blame the current laws with for skyrocketing malpractice insurance premiums, forcing doctors out of the state. And they claim that New Jersey’s largest employer, pharmaceutical companies, are plagued because they are often named in malpractice lawsuits filed in the state.

Read Rest of Article

New Jersey Assemblywoman Pushing Medical Malpractice Reforms

Side note: A bill is being sponsored in New Jersey to help bring that state’s medical malpractice system under control. Hopefully, the bill would also help to reverse the increasingly problematic doctor-to-patient ratio in the state. According to the bill’s sponsor, the current gap between doctors and patients is 12%, and 60% of doctors trained in the state go on to practice medicine elsewhere.

The situation is even worse for specialists. OB/GYNs, particularly, face some of the highest medical malpractice insurance rates in the country. Many New Jersey-OB/GYNs have decreased the number of patients they see, or stopped seeing higher-risk patients, because of the fear of medical malpractice lawsuits. This bill, if passed, may help to alleviate some of these problems and make New Jersey a more positive place to practice medicine.

Press release, via Newsroom New Jersey

Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-13), a co-sponsor of the bill representing Monmouth County, released the following statement following last week’s Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee hearing, which posted A-1982 for discussion only:

Read the full story at the NewJerseyNewsRoom.com’s website

New Jersey Bill would limit rate hikes for medical malpractice insurance

side note: Here is a state-level attempt at reigning in medical malpractice insurance rate hikes. Could this be the model for the rest of the country? Only time will tell……

Bill would limit rate hikes for medical malpractice insurance

TRENTON – The Senate Commerce Committee today approved a bill to limit how much medical-malpractice insurance rates can increase year to year.

The legislation (S2934/A4245) requires the Department of Banking and Insurance to designate a range for medical malpractice liability insurance rate changes — increases or decreases — of between 5 percent and 15 percent.

“Rate increases are sometimes an inevitability, especially when malpractice liability insurance providers have to balance risk assessments for various medical specialties,” said Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), one of the bill’s sponsors. “While many health care professionals wouldn’t disagree with common-sense rate increases as part of the cost of business, malpractice liability insurance rates seem to be dictated by anything but common sense. If the rate increase is appropriate, it would continue to pass muster with DOBI regulators, but something has to be done to begin to rein in out-of-control malpractice liability insurance costs.”

Co-sponsored by Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), the bill also would give the insurance department responsibility for the deciding applicable categories, subcategories, specialties and subspecialties of health care providers.

The legislation would allow the department to approve rate changes that exceed the range limits, and it would remove a provision that considers annual premiums above $10,000 a “special risk” and subject to an alternate route rate.

read rest of article here at NJ.com

New Jersey Mandates Fuller Hospital Medical Malpractice Disclosures

side note: New Jersey’s mandate to disclose all errors could have significant impact on medical malpractice insurance premiums for doctors practicing in the Garden State.

Insurance Journal

New Jersey hospitals will soon have to make public more detailed information on medical errors.

The legislation — which also bars hospitals from charging insurers or patients for procedures to correct certain medical mistakes or hospital-acquired conditions — was signed into law Monday by Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

Proponents say it will allow the public to make more informed health care choices and entice poorer performing hospitals to improve patient safety, though critics say medical mistakes are not always the hospital’s fault.

“Everybody needs a report card to see how they are performing _ I get one from the public every two years when I run for election, and the hospitals will benefit from one as well” Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Turnersville, said Friday. He sponsored the measure along with colleagues Linda Greenstein, D-Hamilton, Lou Greenwald, D-Voorhees, Nilsa Cruz Perez, D-Barrington, and Herb Conaway, D-Delanco.

Read full Insurance Journal article