Florida Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association

July 13, 2007, From the Florida Insurance Council staff 

For more than a generation, Florida has had an underwriting pool for medical malpracticeinsurance called the Florida Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association (FMMJUA). The pool was designed, and operates today, as a means of providing malpractice insurance toindividual health care providers and hospitals who otherwise would be unable to purchase protection for their patients from a commercial insurance company.

The original action to create the FMMJUA was taken during a time when there was a shrinking market for such coverage in Florida. This was based in part on Florida’s regulation of premiums insurers could charge medical providers, in part on a dramatic increase in the number of medical malpractice claims being filed, and in part on the loss of companies providing this type of insurance due to insolvency or corporate decisions that offering this line of insurance was no longer profitable in Florida.

There has been little significant change in the structure or operation of the pool since it was created by act of the Florida Legislature in 1975. The pool operates under the responsibility of the Insurance Commissioner and direction of a Board of Governors. The board is composed of representatives of the Florida Medical Association, Florida Hospital Association, Florida Bar, Florida Dental Association, and the insurance industry.

The board sets rates and policy, subject to the regulatory approval of the Insurance Commissioner. In this way, the FMMJUA operates much the way a private insurance company would operate. Claims are processed by a "servicing carrier," an insurance company with whom the FMMJUA contracts to provide this service. Premiums sent to the pool are invested and ultimately used to pay claims. In the event there is a surplus of premiums to claims, this surplus is returned to policyholders on a pro rate basis. In the event there is a deficit in the payment of claims, policyholders may be required to pay additional premiums or are absorbed by assessments charged to participating insurance companies, self-insurers and risk-retention groups.

JUA Stays in Black; Actually Returns Dividends to Doctor/Policyholders

From Kurt Driscoll, First Professionals Insurance Company, Jacksonville, and chair of the FIC Subcommittee on Medical Malpractice Insurance.

"The JUA has been profitable for many years now and has been returning those profits to the policyholders on years that have no more claims.  It continues to show a surplus and will soon commence a grant process to entities that strive for patient safety.  The JUA has always maintained its premium levels just slightly higher than the industry and always actuarially sound.

"The FMMJUA comes in to play when the market dries up as it did in 2002.  However, even that year it only reached 1000 policyholders. It is truly run as a residual market and stabilizer of the market and not in competition with the market.  It is not a bureaucracy and has only two or three employees while most of the work is contracted with a carrier that writes Medmal on a regular basis.  Not being forced to write at or below market levels has allowed the company to return
profits and not be saddled with deficits that will take years to be paid for by the next generation."

For further information, contact: Preston Cowie, FMMJUA general manager, Tallahassee, 850) 385-8114. or
the association's Internet site at http://www.fmmjua.com