When The Doctors Company launched The Tribute Plan back in 2007, the goal of the program was to reward members for their loyalty to the medical malpractice insurance company and for their commitment to patient care.
But Tribute Plan members haven’t been the only winners from this program. The Doctor’s Co. and the agents who work with them are also reaping the rewards.
“It is a fantastic retention tool,” says Bob DeSimone, an exclusive captive agent for The Doctors Co. and president of The Doctors Insurance Agency in San Diego. “It has also been a benefit to writing new business because no other company down here offers this added benefit.”
The Tribute plan works by allocating a predetermined percentage of a qualified physician’s premium into a loyalty pool to be paid out when the physician retires after age 55 and with at least five year of continuous coverage with The Doctor’s Co. Awards are also distributed in the event an insured dies or becomes permanently disabled.
To become a qualified Tribute Plan member, the physician must be a named insured on a MPL policy issued by The Doctors Co. on or after Jan. 1, 2007. There is no additional cost to the insured for taking advantage of the plan.
According to Stacy Schultz, vice president of marketing for The Doctors Co. in Napa, Calif., the percentage of the amount awarded to the Tribute Plan loyalty pool each year is determined by The Doctors Co. Board of Governors and is based on factors such as the company’s financial health and capital requirements. The individual Tribute Plan amount is determined by the amount of an insured’s annual premium multiplied by the annual Tribute funding percentage.
Since 2007 the percentages have ranged from 11 up to 29 percent. 2011′s percentage was 24 percent and in 2012 it is 14 percent. If a physician receives a claim, it does not affect their eligibility to participate in The Tribute Plan, unless The Doctor’s Co. decides not to renew the insured’s policy.
In the five years since the program launched, over 1,300 Tribute awards have been distributed – totaling over $5 million – to qualified members who have retired from practicing medicine. The average balance for members who have qualified is $11,500, which is equal to one year of Doctor’s Co. average premium.
“Physicians are excited when they are going to retire and get this bonus check,” says DeSimone. “Now they have a benefit that a lot use to take a nice vacation.”
And those good vibes are being felt by the carrier. The Doctor’s Co.’s recently completed a qualitative analysis that showed member satisfaction at an all-time high with 96 percent of members saying they are likely to stay with The Doctors Co. for their entire careers. DeSimone says his retention rate was always in the 90th percentile, but since The Tribute Plan launched it has moved up from the low 90′s to the high 90′s.
“Physicians’ incomes have decreased over the last eight to 10 years because of reimbursement and competition, so doctors do want to look at the bottom line of what they are paying for malpractice insurance,” he says. “Physicians look at their premiums and when they see there is another company that is cheaper, they now consider what they would have to give up.”
DeSimone is referring to the fact that if Tribute Plan participating physicians cancel their policy with The Doctor’s Co. and go to another carrier before retiring, they are no longer eligible for The Tribute Plan and forfeit their accrued balance.
Schultz says The Doctor’s Co. plans to carry on the plan permanently by maintaining its fiscal conservatism. The Doctor’s Co. is also in the final stages of a three year enhanced funding plan designed to help individual Tribute Plan balances accrue at an accelerated rate through 2012.