Nearly 3% of the physicians covered by the nation's largest malpractice insurer will see their premiums increase this year.
While this marks the first time in three years that St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co., based in St. Paul, Minn., increased its premiums, the firm said it isn't indication of a trend.
"For all practical purposes, there are no rate changes, but for some physicians in a handful of states where we just started doing business," said Timothy Morse, vice president of healthcare professionals at St. Paul.
The rates are effective for the 50,000 physicians insured by St. Paul for the period of Jan. 1 to June 30, 1996.
St. Paul said the rate increases are in areas where the company began underwriting new medical liability policies in 1994. "We do business in 45 states and less than five are affected by an increase or decrease (in their rate)," Morse said.
Despite the possible impact managed-care or consolidations could have on providers, St. Paul hasn't seen any effects on liability insurance, Morse said.
"We're waiting for some hard and fast data," Morse said. "The changes in the medical delivery system aren't affecting physicians liability either positively or negatively."
Average annual premiums range from $5,388 to $48,718, depending on location. The range is based on a "mid-risk" family practice physician that doesn't perform obstetrics services.
Frequency of claims-the most important factor in liability rates-was 14.1 claims per 100 physicians by the end of 1994, down from 14.6 in 1993, the company said.
Meanwhile, the average size of a paid malpractice claim rose to $182,000 in 1994 from $172,300 in 1993, the company said.