LAS VEGAS -- Several doctors said the departure of American Physicians Assurance Corp. from Nevada shows that the state's malpractice insurance crisis is continuing despite recent medical liability reforms approved by legislators. Some physicians said difficulties finding and buying replacement policies could force them to leave the state, limit their practices or quit.
Dennis Coffin, a spokesman for American Physicians Assurance of East Lansing, Mich., cited "ongoing losses" for the company and said existing policies will begin to expire in June. The company also is withdrawing from the Florida and Ohio markets.
"This is not an immediate emergency for any one doctor," Coffin said. He said physicians should be able to find replacement policies with companies already in Nevada or with other plans provided by companies not currently in the state.
Coffin said he sent withdrawal notices Wednesday to doctors served by American Physicians Assurance.
In fact, APA has not written any new policies in the state in several years and imposed stringent underwriting requirements on renewals, said Ann Storberg, APA director of investor relations. APA carries 81 policies in the state, including 20 that cover 35 OB/GYNs and others in specialty practices.
The company received just $4 million in premiums in Nevada, less than 3% of its total business, according to Storberg, and wanted to focus on its core service area in the Midwest.
Robert Byrd, chairman of the Medical Liability Association of Nevada, and Chip Wallace, a director for the Nevada Mutual Insurance Co., said doctors should be able to find replacement policies.
They said the doctors might see slight increases or decreases in premiums.
Byrd said doctors have a misconception that his company, a not-for-profit created by the state in 2002, charges similar premiums to doctors regardless of their medical malpractice judgment history. He said each doctor's premium is calculated based on strict underwriting standards.
Wallace said his company, mutually owned by the doctors it represents, offers an alternative for physicians currently insured by APA.
Insurance Commissioner Alice Molasky-Arman said seven companies still provide medical malpractice insurance in Nevada.
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