Healthcare Underwriters Group of Florida (HUGFL), a doctor-owned,
non-assessable, medical liability insurance company, reported that the
company is accepting applications from licensed physicians throughout Florida.
HUGFL’s announcement comes just days after another large, commercial insurance company announced plans to non-renew Florida doctors with policies that would have renewed in January 2004. HUGFL is reportedly one of the few medical liability insurance companies in Florida willing to accept applications for new business.
“We are carefully underwriting all specialties across the entire state of
Florida,” said Steven Salman, CEO of HUGFL. “We are not excluding any specialties and our rates are competitive and fair.”
HUGFL uses a network of independent agents to reach Florida’s
doctors. Salman said the volume of physician applications is steadily
growing and the company has implemented a process to simplify and expedite the submission of applications for underwriting.
Since 1999, a national medical malpractice crisis has hit Florida especially hard. Many Florida doctors have reportedly been unable to find affordable medical liability insurance. As a result, many doctors have been forced into early retirement, moved their practice to another state, decided to go “bare” (without insurance), or have chosen alternate careers.
“HUGFL was created to provide Florida doctors with permanent and reliable protection against medical malpractice claims,” said Salman. “Florida is HUGFL’s only state and protecting Florida doctors is HUGFL’s only business.”
HUGFL applied for licensure from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) in August. Salman said HUGFL’s management team is working closely with the OIR and he expects that HUGFL will be granted a full license by year end.
The HUGFL Insurance model
HUGFL was established earlier this year as a reciprocal insurance company. The reciprocal is owned and governed by Florida doctors. The new company is non-profit and does not carry a premium
load for profit. Additionally, HUGFL is a non-assessable reciprocal, meaning that policyholders cannot be “assessed” to pay for losses if HUGFL’s losses are greater than anticipated.
If, on the other hand, losses are less than anticipated, HUGFL’s
policyholder-owners may receive either a dividend payment or a reduction in future premiums. Dividend payments and premium reductions are both subject to approval by the OIR.
A hallmark of the HUGFL insurance model is reportedly an aggressive approach to defending claims. The company is intent on employing an aggressive defense strategy and intolerance of nuisance claims.
A Subscribers Advisory Committee (physician board of directors) will review actuarial data and make recommendations for establishing annual premiums. Florida doctors will also be involved in underwriting and claims-handling policies.
Healthcare Underwriters Group of Florida is a non-profit insurance company owned and governed by Florida physicians and regulated by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. The sole mission of HUGFL is reportedly to protect and defend Florida’s doctors from claims of medical malpractice.
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