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Public Policy & Advocacy

Florida Physicians Begin to Reap the Benefits of Amendment 3

Your hard work is paying off! Thanks to the 2003 medical malpractice reforms and the passage of Amendment 3 in 2004, the number of malpractice cases in Florida has continued to drop. Now that reduction in cases is resulting in a reduction in premiums, as the Chapter's endorsed carrier, FPIC, has announced a substantial cut in premiums for the coming year. Read on for further information on this exciting news.

Kay M. Mitchell, M.D., FACP
ACP Florida Governor

First Professionals Insurance Company Files for 8 Percent Base Rate Decrease

First Professionals Insurance Company (First Professionals) recently filed for a rate decrease pursuant to which, effective December 1, 2006, most Florida physicians insured by First Professionals will see an 8 percent decrease in medical malpractice premiums. However, about 900 physicians in some specialties will see larger decreases ranging from 14.2 percent to 19.5 percent because of changes in their specialty relativities.

The reasons for this decrease are threefold: the company's strict underwriting guidelines, its claims handling excellence, and the positive impact of Amendment 3 on loss frequency. Fewer claims are being presented against physicians since the passage of the amendment.

"This is a result of the successful efforts by Florida's organized medicine groups to pass Amendment 3 in November 2004," First Professionals President, Robert E. (Bob) White, Jr. said at the recent FMA annual meeting. "Amendment 3 is the reason we are in a position to reduce rates and provide some relief from the medical liability crisis."

The Florida Medical Association together with county and specialty medical groups invested $7.5 million to make that happen. Nearly two years after Florida voters passed Amendment 3, "The Medical Liability Claimant's Compensation Amendment," losses among First Professionals' policyholders have continued to decrease. White attributes that to Amendment 3, which placed a limit on attorneys' contingency fees in medical malpractice cases. This rate decrease represents a significant return on that investment to Florida physicians. Based on 2005 written premiums, if every insurer in Florida made a similar rate adjustment, Florida physicians would save $50 million per year.

White explained that the passage of tort reform causes a spike in loss frequency followed by a lull in claims activity that usually lasts 18-24 months and then claim activity returns to pre-tort reform levels. Florida is now three years out from the passage of tort reform and claims frequency remains at a level that is lower than it was prior to the passage of tort reform. According to White the single variable responsible for this - the only thing that changed since the tort reform legislation was enacted - was the passage of Amendment 3 in November 2004, which limited attorneys' contingency fees in medical negligence cases.

"We salute the doctors of Florida for their vision and fortitude in fighting the good fight having recognized that the 2003 tort reform legislation did not provide an adequate solution for the doctors of Florida and their patients," said White.

For 30 years First Professionals has been dedicated to Florida physicians. In recent years, under the leadership of President Bob White, First Professionals has worked with organized medicine in our effort to achieve tort reform. First Professionals has been a partner with the Florida Medical Association and more than 30 county and state specialty societies, and we will continue to work together in the forefront of the legislature when it comes to issues affecting physicians.

Page updated: 09/18/06