Arizona Medical Malpractice Insurance Primer

Malpractice Insurance Basics

  • 4 companies comprised 93.5% of the market in 2013
  • Number of Physicians: 15,707
  • Insurers with more than 1% of market: 12

Coverage for all medical specialties in Arizona.

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Tort Reform

Arizona does not have caps on damages in medical malpractice cases. There are no limits on attorneys’ fees. Arizona uses a ‘pure comparative negligence’ rule. If the plaintiff is at fault at some percentage, this percentage is deducted from the damages awarded.

Relatively recently the burden of proof has become more difficult for plaintiffs targeting ER physicians. Plaintiffs must provide ‘clear and convincing evidence’ compared to a ‘preponderance of the evidence’ that was required previously.

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Horseshoe-Bend” by ErdwingerOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Statute of Limitations

In Arizona, medical malpractice claims must be brought within 2 years of the date of occurrence of the negligent act. However, a discovery rule does apply in Arizona, so there can be a delay in the statute of limitations until the injury manifests itself. For minors under 18, the statute of limitations does not begin until the child’s 18th birthday.

Liability Limits

Arizona’s typical liability limit for medical malpractice insurance is $1,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 aggregate per policy period (1 year). The $1M/$3M limit is fairly standard across the U.S. In some states, and particularly in rural areas physicians are allowed to carry lower limits, but most physicians are not comfortable with lower limits. The argument for lower limits is that in the case of a law suit attorneys will only go after the amount of the policy limit, so the higher the limit the more money they will sue for. But in today’s litigious environment, and particularly in a state with no caps on non-economic damages, the $1M/$3M limit is recommended.

Carriers

Four main companies dominate over 93% of the market. There are only 11-12 carriers actively writing new business at any given time as carriers enter and exit the market year to year.

Summary of the Arizona Medical Malpractice Market

Arizona’s insurance market is very limited in competition with a low number of insurers in a concentrated market, yet for now rates remain relatively stable. Written premium was down slightly from 2012-2013, while average rates increased slightly as well. Arizona’s liability environment could stand some improvement with increased competition and further reform measures, but for now the center seems to be holding.

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