I've long said that if trial lawyers really believe their own propaganda, they should open their own insurance companies and take advantage of the supposed "gouging" to undercut prices and make profits. Now, the former president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Kim Presbrey, is doing just that, with a new malpractice insurance company, Doctors Direct, focusing on neurosurgeons and heart surgeons. His main competitor, doctor-owned ISMIE, is highly skeptical:
ISMIE Chairman Harold L. Jensen says rivals pulled out or went bankrupt in recent years after "grossly underestimating the complexities of the business." New entrants may be selective about specialties and territories covered, he says in a statement.
"ISMIE applauds the fact that more competitors are dipping their toes back into Illinois' turbulent and litigious environment," Mr. Jensen says. "We're still waiting to see if these competitors are serious about truly taking care of Illinois physicians and patients."
"If they think they can make money and make big money ... they're going to be really surprised," said Dr. Harold Jensen, ISMIE's chairman and an internist in Frankfort.
Time will tell, and someone—either reformers or trial lawyers—will be eating crow. Someone remind me to check back on this guy in 2011 when Doctors Direct's first claims start maturing. (Mike Colias, "Suddenly insurers covet Illinois docs", Crain's Chicago Business, Nov. 25; Ryan Keith, Southern Illinoisan/AP, Dec. 11; Dugger, who links to the identical AP story (but on a site with a loud and obnoxious pop-under ad) and whose co-blogger had previously criticized me for suggesting that lawyers open insurance companies).