PIAA: Liability insurance critic's suggestions were off base

LETTER — Posted May 22, 2006

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Regarding "Report author: Criticism in AMNews editorial was shortsighted" (Letters, April 24): The response by lawyer Jay Angoff, of Columbia, Mo., to your Feb. 20 editorial, "Tort reform: The truth of the matter," concerning his much-criticized analysis of the medical liability insurance industry, is interesting in several ways.

While he appears to concede the importance, if not the need, for tort reform, he continues to recommend ineffective additional regulation of the insurance industry -- an industry largely comprised of insurers owned and/or operated by physicians.

Mr. Angoff suggests prohibiting insurers from increasing rates when they have "excessive" surpluses. As a former insurance commissioner, he should know that insurers' surpluses are already stretched to meet current market demand and far from excessive. This is an area of major criticism of his report.

He suggests empowering state insurance departments to disapprove rate increases, a power they already have.

Lastly, he suggests requiring insurance departments to post Internet prices for liability insurance. This is not auto insurance, and it can be very complex to underwrite, making this a "feel good" suggestion that likely will not work.

Lawrence E. Smarr, president, Physician Insurers Assn. of America, Rockville, Md.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/05/22/edlt0522.htm.

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