SVMIC – 2008 Financial Results – Part 3

This is the third post about State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Company’s 2008 financial results.  Click on the links to see Part 1 and Part 2.

New malpractice claims asserted against SVMIC insureds dropped 2.5% in 2008.  The company reports that 83% of all cases were resolved in favor of it’s policyholders on a company-wide basis.

(One of the things I frequently address at seminars for young lawyers is the evaluation of potential medical negligence cases.  I tell them that the best way to make money on medical malpractice cases is to refuse to represent the next ten people who call asking the lawyer  to represent them in a medical malpractice case.  Obviously, that is ridiculous, but the fact remains that SVMIC "wins" almost 9 out of 10 cases.   A fair number of those cases are filed by lawyers who do not have the experience to recognize a bad case from a good case..)

As of the end of 2008 there were 2,603 cases pending against the company, and some unknown percentage of those cases involve multiple policyholders.  The company reports that the total payout for claims in 2008 declined by 6.7%.

The company paid a total of $138M in claims and loss adjustment expenses in 2008.  That figure is only $500,000 less than 2007.  Since the company says that claim payments decreased by 6.7%, loss expenses (defense attorney’s fees and more) must have increased.  This is certainly consistent with what those of us who practice in the field are seeing – defense firms are working these cases much harder and thus one would expect defense costs to be increasing.

I do not know how many claims SVMIC settled in 2008.  The data for all medical malpractice settlements and judgments in Tennessee will not become available until November.  In 2007 there were 7 jury verdicts for the patient in the entire state and a total of 492 settlements.  2007 also brought 2238 medical malpractice cases dismissed with no payment and 306 jury verdicts for the health care providers, for a total of 2534 cases resolved in a manner adverse to the patient. 

I will have Part 4 for you in a couple of days.