NU Online News Service, July 6, 3:40 p.m. EDT

New York’s average medical malpractice insurance rate will increase 5 percent this year, but “the system is still in crisis,” said Insurance Superintendent James J. Wrynn.

The fewer than 300 doctors covered by the insurer of last resort, the Medical Malpractice Insurance Pool, will see an average increase of about 10 percent, Superintendent Wrynn said in a statement.

Reform is still needed, he added. The New York State Insurance Department will “continue to work toward a long-term solution,” he said.

The increase in rates is the first in three years, said the superintendent. “This rate will help hold the line on costs for physicians while giving the insurance companies the resources to pay claims as they come due,” he said.

“We cannot afford to lose doctors because of high medical malpractice insurance rates, and we have to make sure patients are properly protected,” said Superintendent Wrynn.

Gov. David Paterson signed legislation last August to extend a freeze on medical malpractice rates. He signed an initial freeze in rates a year earlier.

The 5 percent average increase applies to Medial Liability Mutual Insurance Company, which has about 60 percent of the market in New York; Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers, which has about 30 percent of the market; and specialty carriers Hospitals Insurance Company and Academic Health Professionals Insurance Association.

By law, Superintendent Wrynn is charged with establishing the rates for medical malpractice insurance coverage.