The frequency of medical malpractice claims against physicians rose slightly last year, according to St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co., but the country's largest malpractice insurer won't be raising its premiums.
In its annual report on physician liability trends, St. Paul said overall claim trends are relatively stable and, hence, no premium increase was warranted. St. Paul insures about 50,000 physicians nationwide. Premiums vary widely by medical specialty, claims history and geographic location.
Based on location, average annual premiums range from a low of $5,388 to a high of $48,718. The frequency of claims-the most important factor in liability rates-rose to 14.6 claims per 100 physicians in 1993 from 14.1 claims in 1992, the company said.
Meanwhile, the average size of a paid malpractice claim dropped to $172,300 in 1993 from $175,800 in 1992. The estimated value of all non-catastrophic claims, including those for which no payment was made, dropped to $33,800 in 1993 from $34,500 in 1992.