N.C. Insurance Department Disagrees with Trial Lawyers on Rates

The North Carolina Insurance Department said it won’t further investigate the state’s largest medical malpractice insurer, saying it disagrees with a trial lawyers’ association report accusing the company of excessive physician rates.

The department reviewed data prepared for the N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers, which last week argued Medical Mutual Insurance Co. of North Carolina was violating state law with high rates.

After examining the report and performing its own analysis, the department found Medical Mutual’s rate “well within the range of its peers” and there was no need for Insurance Commissioner Jim Long to hold a hearing on the matter, spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said this week.

The academy’s report found that Medical Mutual’s premium rates had gone way up in recent years while claims paid were stable. The surplus that the company set aside to pay future claims was higher than it needed to be, the report said.

Medical Mutual, which insures 6,300 doctors statewide, was pleased with the department’s decision.

“Quite frankly, I felt we had done things appropriately in the past,” said Dale Jenkins, the company’s chief executive officer.

Academy chief executive Dick Taylor said he believed the Insurance Department’s analysis agreed with the thrust of his group’s report.