24 January 2023

Social inflation costs medical malpractice insurers $3.5bn

Up to $3.5 billion of medical malpractice losses over the last decade are due to social inflation, according to a new study.

The research for physician-owned medical malpractice insurer The Doctors Company (TDC) found that in the decade ending in 2021, between eight and eleven per cent – $2.4 to $3.5 billion – of malpractice losses incurred by physician-focused insurers were attributable to the trend.

Moore Actuarial Consulting conducted the research and examined loss development factors (LDFs) across more than a decade for insurers. Theoretically, such factors should change little, with just random variation. In practice, they have risen continually, driven particularly by larger settlements.

“As an organization led by physicians, we know that commissioning important industry research is part of our mission to serve those who provide care. The study we are releasing today shows that physicians are affected by social inflation," said Robert E White Jr, president of TDC Group.

“Our research shows that the pace of settlements larger than $1 million has accelerated, and large settlements are a significant driver of social inflation. It is a reason malpractice premiums are rising for many physicians.”

Independently practising advanced practice clinicians, such as some nurse practitioners, may also be affected, the company added.

Founded and led by physicians, TDC is the US’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer.