Doctors in Washington state will receive refunds from their malpractice insurance company, state officials announced after determining the insurer charged excessive premiums to its policyholders last year.
The state insurance commissioner ordered Physicians Insurance and its affiliate, Western Professional Insurance, to repay more than $1.3 million plus interest to almost 2,500 physicians. Officials with the company described it as a paperwork mistake, and said the "rate filing inaccuracies represent less than 2% of all the premiums charged" to policyholders.
"At the end of the day, we have always charged no more and no less than what our underwriting called for and what the company needs on hand to maintain its strength in the professional liability insurance market," Mary-Lou Misrahy, president and chief executive officer of Physicians Insurance, said in a statement.
But consumer advocates such as Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, called it an example of how excessive premiums -- and not the high costs of lawsuits -- have triggered skyrocketing malpractice costs for doctors.