Frequently Asked Questions

Medical Risk ServicesFrequently Asked Questions

Let our experience be your guide.

What should I expect after I submit my request for quotes?

One of our highly experienced agents will contact you within 24 hours to discuss your needs further, and he or she will work with you through the entire application process from start to finish. You will never start with or be passed off to a customer service representative or pushy sales person, and since we represent all major carriers in Illinois, you can be sure we will provide you with an unbiased, accurate view of all of your insurance options and pricing.

Why work with an independent agent such as MRS, rather than directly with a carrier?

The answer to this question is two-fold. First, as an independent agent, we are contracted with all major, rated insurance carriers in Illinois. This means we have access to all available rates and pricing, and we are educated on the marketplace.

Second, your premium is not increased by working with an agent, nor will you save any money by working directly with a carrier and skipping the middle-man.

Your agent is your advocate. We work for you, to analyze your practice history and provide you with the best coverage and pricing options available.

What types of coverage does MRS provide?

Most insurance carriers offer Claims Made coverage, while a few also offer Occurrence Coverage. To differentiate:

Claims Made Coverage: A claims-made policy provides coverage for incidents occurring and reported to the insurance company after your retroactive date, and as long as the policy is in-force – so, before it expires.

Immediately upon termination of your claims-made policy, you will need to make a decision. You may either:

1) Purchase a Tail Policy (discussed in more detail below); or

2) Ask your new policy’s carrier to provide Prior Acts Coverage (also discussed in more detail below).

A claims-made policy will “step” in maturity. This means, your Year One premium is much lower than when your policy “matures,” which depends on the carrier, but can be anywhere from five to seven years. Each year that your policy steps, your base rate will go up, until you reach your mature year, where your base premium will level off. Each carrier also has its individual discounts that can be applied to the base premium to offset your cost.

Occurrence Coverage: With an occurrence policy, you are covered for any incidents that occur while the policy is in force, whether the claims was made or reported during the policy effective period, or after. This means that if a claim is reported after your occurrence policy expires, the insurance company is still responsible for the handling of this claims.

While this can be potentially beneficial, it also has potential cost consequences, in terms of premium. Because future claims are unknown, insurance companies will set the premiums at a higher rate to account for the unknown. Most companies no longer offer occurrence coverage, but some still do.

Do I need to purchase a tail policy before switching liability coverage?

If you are currently covered by a Claims-Made Policy, you have two options for extended coverage once your policy expires. You may either purchase a Tail Policy, or you may explore the option of purchasing Prior Acts coverage if you are switching coverage to another insurance carrier.

Tail Policy: This type of policy ensures that insurance coverage will be provided for claims that arise after the termination of your claims-made policy, for incidents that occurred while the policy was in force. The premium for a tail policy is typically very high, usually at 2-3 times your expiring annual premium. You and your employer should take into account this cost when negotiating your employment agreement.

Prior Acts Coverage: This is an alternative to purchasing Tail coverage, whereby your new insurance carrier will “pick up” your “prior acts” coverage back to your retroactive date, so that you will have continuous coverage. There is typically an added premium with this coverage as well, though it is usually less expensive than purchasing a Tail policy. You will want to discuss this ahead of time when looking for new employment, to see if it is an option that your new employer will consider.

When do I qualify for free retirement tail?

Every carrier has its own retirement tail provision. In Illinois, some carriers maintain that you must have coverage for one year, and then you’ll be eligible for free retirement tail once you reach the age of 55. Some carriers maintain that you must be covered for at least 5 years before becoming eligible. Still other carriers have no age requirement. Most do require that you retire completely, while some dictate certain circumstances where you may be able to continue working in some capacity.

For detailed information regarding each carrier’s retirement tail policy, please contact an agent.

How do I purchase a tail policy?

You must purchase your tail policy directly from your current insurance carrier, with whom your policy will be expiring. Upon formally notifying your carrier of your intent to cancel your claims-made coverage, they will provide you with a quote for tail coverage.

Do you provide coverage for allied health care professionals like PA’s, NP’s, CRNA’s, etc?

Yes, our carriers do provide coverage for allied healthcare professionals. Please contact an agent for more information on how to apply for coverage.

What are the best ways to provide coverage for my corporation?

Our carriers also write coverage for your professional corporation. Your corporation can either share in your personal limits, or you may purchase separate limits. Each carrier’s filed rates differ, so we would direct you to contact an agent for more information.

Every malpractice broker says they can get me the lowest price. What is the truth?

The only way an agent can truly negotiate the lowest price for you, is to a) have access to each carrier in the marketplace, and b) have all the information regarding your practice. Together, this information can be relayed to each carrier. Since each carrier rates different specialties, locations, and individuals differently, and each will look closely at your experience and claims history, you want to be sure that you are providing your agent with all information, and that you are working with an agent who unbiasedly represents the full marketplace.

Don’t fall for blanket statements from agents or insurance companies, stating they can save you a flat % or dollar amount off of your premium, without looking at your practice. These marketing tactics prey on everyone’s desire to save money, but can often leave you with coverage gaps and horror stories in the long run. The truth is, there is no one price for everyone. Each risk is unique, and you want to make sure you are rated accurately.

Is the lowest-priced option my best option?

As people, we always want the best deal, whether we are purchasing a house, a car, or in this case, malpractice insurance. Because each insurance carrier has filed rates from which they cannot deviate, each carrier is going to rate each physician and group differently. One carrier may be higher for one specialty classification, but extremely competitive in another.

As with other financial decisions you make in your life, you’ll want to evaluate all of the pros and cons that go along with each carrier and each quote you receive. Luckily, our agents have access to all of the information available, and will provide it to you along with their expert, unbiased advice. We are not incented to recommend one carrier over another; we do not promise blanket deals; and therefore, we work truly for the physician, on your behalf, to make sure you have the most appropriate coverage for your practice.

How does Tort Reform affect me?

As you may know, Tort Reform in Illinois was overturned in 2010. The Illinois Supreme Court threw out limits on non-economic damages in medical professional liability cases. While the expectations were that insurance rates could skyrocket, in reality, this has not been the case. Physicians are currently enjoying relatively stable conditions in insurance premiums.

How are insurance companies different in how they handle defense of my claims?

Each carrier works with different legal professionals, and some may agree to let you use your own (approved) counsel, while others may not. They also have access to their own databases of medical experts. Most carriers will also require your consent to settle, and your involvement will be key in your defense.

Your agent can provide you with more information on each carrier’s defense teams, as well as information on their claims statistics, such as percentage of claims closed without payment, trial wins, customer satisfaction rating, and more.

I’d like to add coverage for work at a med spa. Will my carrier cover me for this work?

Some insurance carriers do offer coverage for procedures performed at a med spa, while others do not. It depends entirely on each carrier’s filed rates and specialty classes. To find out your options for med spa work, please contact an agent.

Why do malpractice insurance carriers change their rates?

Each year, the insurance companies must file their rates with the State Department of Insurance. They may choose to raise or lower their rates, or they may keep them flat. These decisions are based on historical performance and future financial performance expectations.

Check in with your agent a couple of months prior to your renewal, to gauge the current state of your practice (have you had any new claims, any specialty changes, or new hires, etc) and the marketplace. Your agent will direct you on whether it would be best to look at new markets, or whether it will be in your best interest to remain with your current carrier. It is not always necessary to go through the hassle of marketing your coverage every year, but sometimes it does make sense. Your agent can help you make this decision.

I am affiliated with a medical association. Can I get a discount on my malpractice insurance?

Many insurance companies do offer premium discounts for physicians affiliated with a certain medical association. While this can be a nice benefit, it may still not always offer the best pricing, and therefore, a full market analysis is recommended. You should always know your options, and your agent can lay them out for you, along with the discounts provided by each carrier for being affiliated with a medical association.

I just received my first claim. What is going to happen?

Receiving a claim can be a devastating feeling for a physician. As soon as you receive a claim, call our offices to speak with your agent, who will direct you in reporting the claim to your insurance carrier. Timeliness is key in reporting claims, so do not sit on a claim that you receive. Your insurance company will have a limited amount of time in which to file a response, and therefore, they will want to have as much notice as possible to prepare one.

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