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The overall medical malpractice insurance market has been soft, but it is showing some signs of hardening, say experts.
Medical malpractice insurance has mostly been in an extended soft market, said John Geisbush, Phoenix-based health care professional liability leader for Marsh USA Inc.
“This specialty area has been a higher-risk area with respect to what insurers look for as far as premium to provide coverage to physicians,” he said.
But he does not see a restriction in capacity, with many insurers still interested in writing the coverage.
However, the overall med mal market shows some signs of hardening, said Valentina Minetti, London-based focus group leader for U.S. hospitals with Beazley PLC. “I would say rates are slowly or marginally going up,” with single-digit rate increases over the past 12 months.
“We have seen years of tough markets, where rates have been declining quite steeply, and these years have combined with increased severity over the last few years,” she said.
This combination of a soft market and severity is “triggering some increasing rates,” although “we’re still talking pretty modest increases,” she said.
Darrell Ranum, Columbus, Ohio-based vice president of patient safety for The Doctors Co., which provides medical malpractice insurance to some 80,000 physicians, agreed that rates have begun to stabilize after decreasing over the last 15 years.
Childbirth-related medical professional liability claims have traditionally been a major problem for health care institutions and physicians, but better risk management is helping to reduce their impact, experts say.