Physicians Insurance was founded in 1981 under the auspices of the Washington State Medical Association. Physicians believed then, as they do now, that they would get better service and outcomes from a company that they owned, rather than from a giant, national firm with no local presence.
Since then, other insurance carriers have entered and left the market, but Physicians Insurance has remained the stable, committed, and local insurer for physicians, clinics, facilities, and hospitals. In the intervening years, the company has experienced steady growth and has built a strong financial base by providing broad policy coverage, related claims and risk management expertise, and exceptional customer service all at competitive rates.
Today, Physicians Insurance serves more than 8,500 members in Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and provides risk-management consulting, continuing medical education, and claims administration services. The company has grown to be the largest insurer of physicians and rural, critical access hospitals in the Pacific Northwest, and is rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company*.
As a trusted partner, we provide solutions to physicians, groups, and facilities to manage risk, and improve healthcare quality and patient safety.
Our Core Values
We are committed to creating an environment that embodies the following values:
- Protective: Guard against loss or harm, employ sound financial practices, and steward resources to benefit of members.
- Principled: Be honest, trustworthy, and accountable in business and personal interactions.
- Service Oriented: Know our customers well enough to anticipate their needs and provide support.
- Collaborative: Work in partnership with each other and our members.
- Forward-Thinking: Lead through continuous improvement and a drive to improve member and organizational value.
*A.M. Best’s ratings are on a scale from A++ (superior) down to D (poor), with even lower ratings for companies under regulatory supervision or in liquidation.
Physicians Insurance A Mutual Company Board of Directors
Physicians Insurance is a mutual insurance company governed by a board of directors elected by the policyholders. Physician representation on the Board is guaranteed by the bylaws, and the company benefits from the expertise of several nonphysician directors. Below are the names of the current Board members.
David Carlson, DO, Board Chair
President and CEO
Physicians Insurance A Mutual Company
Joseph Deng, MD
Jordana Gaumond, MD
Gary Goin, MD
Executive Director and CEO
Washington State Medical Association
Skip Li, JD
Shane Macaulay, MD
President, Chairman, and CEO,
Seabright Holdings (retired)
President, Boeing Capital Corporation (retired)
Financial Stewardship and Performance
Back in January 1982, known then as Washington State Physicians Insurance Exchange (WSPIE), the WSMA and individual physicians got together and wrote personal checks to provide $2.4 million in loans to start the company. Fast forward to the present, we’ve become the number one insurer of medical practices and critical access hospitals in the Pacific Northwest and our policyholder surplus is approaching $300 million. All the while, we have remained singularly focused on protecting, servicing, and supporting our members in ways that no other medical professional liability company does.
Today, the Medical Professional Liability Insurance Industry (MPLI) has incurred five straight years of underwriting losses, each year getting progressively worse than the year before. The Combined Ratio for the MPLI Industry was 113% in 2020, meaning that for every $1.00 in premium the industry paid $1.13 in losses and expenses.*
As well, a study by a global reinsurer identified that the value of an average US hospital claim rose 50% from 2009-2018, and the number of claims exceeding $5M has increased steadily by 280% over the last two decades.**
Locally, Physicians Insurance’s experience shows an increase in severity of claims beginning in 2016. In the Northwest, paid indemnity severity has increased by between 30% and 400% in 2015-2019 compared to the prior five-year period. And, in the last four years the number of claims settling for more than $1M and $2M jumped 100% and 300% respectively. Adding to this impact, the cost to defend a claim has increased by nearly 50% since 2007. In short, not only are claims resolving for more indemnity (the sum of money paid out in the claim), but it is also costing more to defend them.
Physicians Insurance has not been immune to these trends. Until last year, we had not implemented a premium rate increase in over 15 years. In fact, we actually decreased rates twice during that time. However, in order to meet our mission to protect policy holder surplus and to manage the company in a financially responsible manner, we had to increase our premium rates for the 2021 policy year, and we will need to do so again for 2022.
Physicians Insurance is owned and directed by you, our member owners. We rely on each other during both easy and unprecedented times. We are grateful for the opportunity to support and protect you, our members, and we hope you see the long-term value of your company – knowing that in the long run we will get through this together. There is always one thing you can count on:
Physicians Insurance will be alongside you every step of the way.
After all, we are your company.
A.M. Best’s ratings are on a scale from A++ (superior) down to D (poor), with even lower ratings for companies under regulatory supervision or in liquidation.
*7/20/21 Fitch Ratings MPLI Providers Underwriting Losses Mount Despite Pricing Improvement
** 12/02/19 HealthLeaders: Hospitals Need to Brace for Upward Trend in Malpractice Claims
"There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction."
-- John F. Kennedy
Advocacy is crucial to ensuring that the concerns of our members and their patients are heard by lawmakers at both the state and national level. That's why the Government Relations program at Physicians Insurance works in close cooperation with many other organizations that pursue similar goals, and our staff have become trusted and valued sources of information and ideas for legislators, regulators, and others concerned about our issues.
As a result, we are frequently asked to serve on task forces to develop new laws and regulations and to serve on the boards of local and national organizations and coalitions. For instance, our in-house lobbyist Anne Bryant serves as the Chair of the Government Relations Committee for the Medical Professional Liability Association (MPL Association). We are established as a leading advocate for laws that impact health care liability, insurance, and patient safety. In addition, we work to promote civil justice issues from a defense perspective.
As we keep abreast of issues facing our region, our strong advocacy continues nationally and in states in which we provide coverage. We focus on work such as supporting the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act, the Affordable Care Act’s provision that no new standard of care for medical liability claims is created by the ACA, and working closely with state medical associations and specialty societies in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
We also recognize the importance of bipartisan support of candidates open to reasonable laws in our areas of emphasis: health care liability reform, insurance, and patient safety. We support efforts to recruit intelligent and concerned legislative and judicial candidates with a balanced and fair approach, who are able and willing to look at all sides of these issues.
- Physicians Insurance Government Affairs Legislative Priorities 2020-21
- Government Relations Update - June 12, 2020
- 2019 Legislative Session Update
- 2018 Legislative Session Update
- Will National Health Care Reform Inadvertently Create New Types of Medical Liability Claims
- Federal Standard of Care Protection Included in H_R_2 Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015
For more information or questions, please contact Anne E. Bryant, Senior Director of Government Relations, at (206) 343-7300 or email@example.com.
- Alaska State Legislature
- Health Coalition on Liability and Access
- Idaho Legislature
- Liability Reform Coalition (Washington State)
- Oregon Legislature
- Oregon Liability Reform Coalition
- MPL Association
- Washington Legislature Bill Information