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The Tribute Plan: Frequently Asked Questions

The Tribute® Plan is a breakthrough financial benefit that rewards eligible members for their loyalty to The Doctors Company and for their commitment to superior patient care.

Since its launch in 2007, the Tribute Plan has distributed more than $40 million. The highest award to date is $138,599.

  • What is the current Tribute funding rate?
  • The current Tribute Plan funding rate is 10 percent of your eligible premium.
  • What additional benefits come with being a member of The Doctors Company?
  • Founded and led by doctors, The Doctors Company considers our insureds to be members of The Doctors Company, not merely policyholders. As a member, you enjoy tangible benefits, including:
    • The Tribute Plan.
    • The potential for dividend distributions.
    • CyberGuard® cyber liability protection and MediGuard® regulatory risk coverage.
    • Industry-leading patient safety programs.
    • A wide array of tools and support designed to strengthen your practice and make practicing medicine more rewarding.
  • Why did The Doctors Company create the Tribute Plan?
  • The Doctors Company is focused on being accountable to our members—unlike commercial insurance companies focused on rewarding their outside stockholders or countless other insurance companies that view you as an anonymous policyholder. We are on a mission to advance, protect, and reward the practice of good medicine, and we created the Tribute Plan as the best way to support our mission and reward our members. This benefit is based on the fundamental principle that by working together to promote patient safety and keep claims low, we all win. It is a long-term commitment to you and your practice and to changing our profession for the better.
  • What is the Tribute Plan loyalty pool?
  • The loyalty pool is a specific allocation of funds that the Board of Governors sets aside for the express purpose of rewarding members for advancing the practice of good medicine throughout their careers.
  • How does The Doctors Company determine how much to set aside in the loyalty pool each year?
  • The Board of Governors determines the amount of funds to be allocated to the Tribute Plan loyalty pool for each year. Funding is based on factors such as The Doctors Company’s financial health and capital requirements.
  • How can The Doctors Company afford to offer me a program like this?
  • The Doctors Company has a long history of fiscal conservatism. Our strict underwriting guidelines and long-term member retention have created a robust organization with results that benefit our superior membership. The strong financial position of The Doctors Company allows us to create a program to reward our members without jeopardizing our ability to pay claims and protect our members.
  • How long will the Tribute Plan run?
  • While no organization can guarantee that a program will run in perpetuity, the Tribute Plan is intended to be a permanent benefit for members of The Doctors Company. The Doctors Company has been protecting physicians since 1976 and is financially one of the strongest companies in the medical malpractice insurance industry. The Doctors Company exists to provide the best service to its members, and the Tribute Plan exemplifies our long-term commitment to our members and our mission.
  • Will the Tribute Plan increase my premium?
  • No, it will not increase your current or future premiums in any way. The Tribute Plan is an added member benefit that provides a financial reward for a member’s commitment to The Doctors Company and to advancing the practice of good medicine. As a member of The Doctors Company, you will continue to enjoy tangible benefits, including the potential for dividend distributions, industry-leading patient safety programs, and a wide array of tools and support designed to strengthen your practice and make practicing medicine more rewarding.
  • Why not lower premiums instead of creating the Tribute Plan?
  • The Tribute Plan adds value to our already highly competitive medical liability program. Our premium rates are carefully developed to ensure we can aggressively defend each of our members. With jury awards continuing to climb, premiums are intended to provide a sufficient level of capital in the event claim costs exceed our estimates. The Doctors Company maintains this capital for your financial security.
  • Does the Tribute Plan impact the potential for dividends?
  • No. The Tribute Plan has been created as an added member benefit to provide a financial reward for a member’s long-term commitment to The Doctors Company and to advancing the practice of good medicine. This benefit will not impact The Doctors Company’s ongoing dividend program, which returns premiums to members for better-than-expected loss experience.
  • How do I become eligible to receive my Tribute Plan balance?
  • To become eligible for an award balance, an eligible member must permanently retire at age 55 or older with at least five years of continuous coverage with The Doctors Company. An award balance may also become eligible upon death or permanent disability—even if age and continuous coverage requirements have not been met. Also see the "About group members" section.
  • Where can I learn more about the Tribute Plan?
  • You can contact your agent or Member Services at Tribute@thedoctors.com.

Eligibility for the Tribute Plan

  • Who is eligible to participate in the Tribute Plan?
  • An eligible member is an individual listed as a “Named Insured” on a medical liability insurance policy issued by The Doctors Company and in force on or after January 1, 2007. Certain Named Insureds do not participate in the Tribute Plan. These include business entities, hospitals, emergency rooms, and ancillary insureds. In addition, policyholders whose coverage with The Doctors Company was terminated prior to January 1, 2007, and who obtained extended reporting coverage do not participate in the Tribute Plan.
  • Am I eligible to participate in the Tribute Plan if I was previously insured by a company acquired by The Doctors Company?
  • As an insured of an acquired company, you are eligible to participate in the Tribute Plan once you become a member of The Doctors Company. This occurs when your policy renews as a policy issued by The Doctors Company. Please refer to the chart below for additional information about your Tribute eligibility.

    TH8809_Tribute_Eligibility_070212_f.png

  • Am I eligible to participate if I am a part-time physician?
  • Yes.
  • Am I eligible to participate if I’m insured with TDC Specialty Insurance Company?
  • No. The Tribute Plan is available only to members who have coverage issued by The Doctors Company. However, a former member who rejoins The Doctors Company after obtaining coverage with TDC Specialty Insurance Company (with no gaps in coverage) will have his or her Tribute Plan balance and years-of-continuous-coverage credit reinstated.
  • If I suspend my coverage, will my participation in the Tribute Plan be affected?
  • You will not receive additional contributions while your policy is suspended, and your suspension period will not count toward the distribution requirement of five years of continuous coverage. When you reinstate your policy, your share of the loyalty pool will be adjusted to account for the suspension period.
  • What if I leave The Doctors Company but return again in the future?
  • If you leave The Doctors Company for reasons other than death, permanent disability, or permanent retirement, your Tribute Plan balance is forfeited. If you obtain coverage from The Doctors Company at a future time, your balance and years-of-continuous-coverage credit start over. However, effective October 1, 2016, if you leave The Doctors Company and return in 12 months or less, your Tribute balance and years of continuous coverage can be reinstated. If you suspend and then reinstate your coverage, your share of the loyalty pool will be adjusted to account for the suspension, and your suspension period will not count toward the years-of-continuous-coverage requirement. A former member who rejoins The Doctors Company after obtaining coverage with TDC Specialty Insurance Company’s PULIC program (with no gaps in coverage) will have his or her Tribute Plan balance and years-of-continuous-coverage credit reinstated.

    Under certain circumstances, Tribute accounts may also be reinstated for groups that leave The Doctors Company but rejoin within a year. Contact Member Services at (800) 421-2368 for complete details.

  • What if my medical corporation and I are both listed as Named Insureds?
  • Assignment of some or all of your Tribute balance to your medical corporation is available. 
  • Where can I learn more about eligibility for the Tribute Plan?
  • You can contact your agent or Member Services at Tribute@thedoctors.com.

About my Tribute Plan balance

  • How do I know what my Tribute Plan balance is?
  • You can see your estimated award balance at any time by signing in to access your member information. This estimated balance represents your accumulated balance if your policy remains in force at the current premium through your current policy term. This statement also shows your estimated balance in five years, which assumes continual renewal at your current premium. Both projected balances may change if your premium is adjusted. You will also see this information on Tribute Plan statements and with your annual renewal premium statement.
  • How is my balance determined?
  • The allocation The Doctors Company makes from the loyalty pool to your individual Tribute Plan balance is based on your premium.
  • Does my claims experience affect my award?
  • No. However, because this benefit is based on a commitment to outstanding patient care throughout one’s career, a member with very poor claims experience could be subject to nonrenewal based on The Doctors Company’s normal underwriting criteria. Nonrenewal would cause loss of the member’s Tribute Plan balance.
  • If The Doctors Company nonrenews me, am I still entitled to my Tribute Plan award balance?
  • Any decision to nonrenew a policy would be based upon The Doctors Company’s strict underwriting guidelines. If you are nonrenewed by The Doctors Company at any time, you will lose your Tribute Plan balance and no longer participate in the plan.
  • How does my award balance accumulate value?
  • Allocations to your individual Tribute Plan balance from the loyalty pool will be made each year upon renewal of your policy based on the amount of your premium times the annual Tribute funding percentage approved by the Board of Governors. The funding percentage amount is based on factors such as The Doctors Company’s financial health and capital requirements.
  • Does my balance earn interest?
  • No. However, your Tribute Plan balance will grow through annual funding declarations authorized by The Doctors Company’s Board of Governors.
  • When do I become eligible to receive my Tribute Plan award balance?
  • To become eligible to receive your award balance, you must permanently retire at age 55 or older with at least five years of continuous coverage with The Doctors Company. Your Tribute Plan award balance may also be distributed in the event you die or become permanently disabled while insured by The Doctors Company, even if age and continuous coverage requirements have not been met.
  • Is my award balance guaranteed?
  • The Doctors Company is financially among the strongest medical malpractice insurers. With more than $4 billion in assets and $1.8 billion in member surplus, The Doctors Company has a long history of fiscal conservatism and meeting all of its financial commitments. Your Tribute Plan balance is one of these commitments. While your balance is not legally “guaranteed,” the obligation is supported by the firm commitment of the Board of Governors and the substantial capital of The Doctors Company, an insurer that is rated A by A.M. Best Company and Fitch Ratings.
  • Where can I learn more about my Tribute Plan balance?
  • You can contact your agent or Member Services at Tribute@thedoctors.com.

Receiving my Tribute Plan balance

  • What are the requirements for receiving a Tribute Plan balance?
  • To be eligible to receive your award balance, you must:
    • Be age 55 or older.
    • Retire permanently from medicine.
    • Have five or more years of continuous coverage with The Doctors Company on the day you retire.

    Your Tribute Plan award balance may also be distributed in the event you die or become permanently disabled while insured by The Doctors Company, even if age and continuous coverage requirements have not been met.

    Members who were previously insured by a company acquired by The Doctors Company should refer to the “Eligibility for the Tribute Plan” section. 

    To receive your award balance upon retirement, you will be required to sign a statement that you are permanently retiring.

  • What does it mean to retire permanently?
  • To be considered permanently retired, you must permanently and completely cease from engaging in the practice of medicine for compensation. However, you can still:
    • Perform volunteer or other services requiring a medical license for which no compensation is expected or received, as long as your performance complies with The Doctors Company’s underwriting guidelines. 
    • Serve as locum tenens or in another capacity requiring a medical license, if approved by underwriting for no-cost extended reporting coverage.
  • When does my “five years of continuous coverage” begin?
  • Your years-of-continuous-coverage period began on the first date you became insured with The Doctors Company. For additional information about how your coverage period is affected by policy suspension, leaving The Doctors Company, or being previously insured by an acquired company, see the “Eligibility for the Tribute Plan” section.
  • How will I receive my balance?
  • If you qualify, your Tribute Plan award is paid in a single lump-sum payment. Generally, you should receive your Tribute check within eight weeks of meeting the distribution requirements and supplying all required documentation to The Doctors Company.
  • Why does The Doctors Company’s Board of Governors need to approve Tribute Plan awards?
  • It is essential that The Doctors Company have the necessary financial strength to aggressively defend claims, support its ongoing operations, and meet regulatory capital requirements—which is why The Doctors Company’s Board of Governors approves Tribute Plan awards. Only in the unlikely situation of the company’s severe financial weakness would the board potentially delay or withhold approval of pending awards.
  • Can I withdraw my Tribute Plan balance before I retire?
  • No. You may receive your balance only upon meeting the distribution criteria, which require you to be age 55 or older, permanently retire from the practice of medicine, and have five or more years of continuous coverage with The Doctors Company on the day you retire. Your Tribute Plan award balance may also be distributed in the event you die or become permanently disabled while insured by The Doctors Company, even if age and continuous coverage requirements have not been met.
  • Can I choose to receive my Tribute Plan award at a later date?
  • You may defer your award payment for a period of up to 12 months subsequent to your retirement date by submitting a written request to The Doctors Company at the time you retire.
  • Can I choose to receive my award over a period of time?
  • No. Awards are paid only in a single lump-sum.
  • How much can I expect to receive if I retire at age 65?
  • Your Tribute Plan payout depends on how many years you participate in the plan and on your premium.
  • What happens if I die before receiving my award?
  • If you have submitted a beneficiary designation form, any balance that would otherwise be payable to you will be paid to your designated beneficiary(ies). If you have not submitted a beneficiary designation form, your balance in this circumstance would be paid to your estate.
  • What happens if I get a divorce before receiving my award?
  • You should consult your personal attorney to determine the appropriate treatment of the award.
  • I purchased retroactive (prior acts) coverage when I started my policy with The Doctors Company. Does my retroactive coverage count toward the Tribute Plan requirement of five years of continuous coverage?
  • No. Your years-of-continuous-coverage period begins on the first day of coverage with The Doctors Company, excluding any retroactive coverage period.
  • What are the tax consequences of receiving my Tribute Plan award?
  • You will receive a Form 1099-Misc for the calendar year in which your award is paid. You should consult your tax adviser in advance of your retirement to determine the appropriate treatment on your tax return.

    You may defer your Tribute Plan award payment up to one year after retirement. If you have questions about the Tribute Plan at retirement, e-mail them to Tribute@thedoctors.com.

  • Can I assign my distribution to my medical corporation?
  • Yes, as long as it either: (i) is a Named Insured on your policy or (ii) paid 100 percent of your premium for the policy period immediately preceding the date you meet the eligibility requirements for payment of your award balance.

About group members

  • I’m a member of a group. Does the group get the Tribute Plan award or do I?
  • Balances are maintained at the individual level, so once the distribution requirements are met, you would receive the Tribute Plan award unless the award has been assigned to your group. Certain qualifying large groups may elect to have their group members’ Tribute balances accumulated during the election period paid to the group without requiring an assignment.
  • How does the Tribute Assignment process work?
  • You may desire to assign some or all of your Tribute Plan award to your group or to another party that has paid 100 percent of your premium for the policy period immediately preceding the date you meet the award payment eligibility requirements. A Tribute Assignment form is available for you (and the group/other party) to request the assignment.
  • If I leave my group, how is my participation in the Tribute Plan affected?
  • If you leave your current group for a new group or practice that is insured by The Doctors Company, your balance and years-of-continuous-coverage credit will remain intact and continue to accumulate in your name. If you leave The Doctors Company to join a non-The Doctors Company insured group and return to The Doctors Company in 12 months or less, your Tribute balance and years of continuous coverage can be reinstated. Otherwise, your balance will be forfeited.

For additional questions on the Tribute Plan, contact your agent or Member Services at (800) 421-2368 or Tribute@thedoctors.com.

 

Important Information

The information in this document is a summary of certain terms and conditions of the Plan Document (“Plan Document”) of the Tribute Plan, as established and administered by The Doctors Company. This document does not purport to describe all the terms and conditions of the Tribute Plan. The Plan Document contains a full description of the Tribute Plan. In the event of any conflict, inconsistency, or other difference between this document and the Plan Document, the terms and conditions of the Plan Document will control in every respect. Any projected balance amounts or other projections are not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future balance amounts. The statistics used herein have been obtained from sources the plan administrators believe to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed. Past experience and practices with respect to Plan Balances do not guarantee the same or similar future results.

FIRST IN PATIENT SAFETY   |    www.thedoctors.com/patientsafety

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