Comparing Medical Indemnity Insurance – What You Need to Know

Comparing Medical Indemnity Insurance – What You Need to Know

Operating within the medical and healthcare industry can come with risks. To protect patients and practice safely, it’s a legal requirement in Australia that all healthcare and medical professionals be insured with medical indemnity insurance cover.

This cover not only protects patients, but also allows professionals to run their medical practice without undue fear of crippling business costs should they potentially have to defend against prosecution.

Considering the individual needs of different healthcare professionals, it’s important that practitioners seek a comparison of medical indemnity insurance covers in Australia before deciding on which provider or policy will suit them best.

What is Medical Indemnity Insurance?

Medical indemnity insurance protects the liability of healthcare professionals, such as doctors and dentists, if they are found responsible for errors or negligence in their work. Depending on the type of policy, this insurance can cover costs for both the legal fees and awarded compensation of a liability claim.

Medical indemnity insurance can cover both yourself and your patients, meaning that if an incident occurs and patients are harmed while within your care, their costs will also be covered. Medical indemnity insurance can also help to protect healthcare professionals who are training in a hospital and could cover the costs of a patient bringing a claim against the hospital itself.

Personal indemnity insurance can also extend this cover to any work that you might do outside of the workplace, for example providing medical care to a member of the public during an emergency, writing scripts or volunteering and providing medical work for not-for-profit organisations.

Is Medical Indemnity Insurance Compulsory?

Under Australian law, it’s compulsory that all practising medical practitioners be insured or otherwise indemnified for the entire scope of their work. This can be through their employer’s insurance arrangement for the entire practice, or individually through their own medical indemnity insurer. However, typically a separate policy will be required to cover a practice or its employees.

Because medical indemnity insurance is mandatory, medical practitioners who operate a private practice are automatically required to have their own personal medical indemnity insurance. Appropriate professional indemnity insurance is also a requirement of registration to many organisations of health care professionals.

Understanding Your Cover

As different medical indemnity covers will each come with their own set of policies and premiums, it’s important for professionals to be aware of their responsibilities in order to protect their ability to claim.

Medical indemnity insurance is provided on a claims-made basis. This means that you will only be covered if you alert your insurer of a claim (or circumstance which could reasonably lead to a claim) during the period in which you are insured.

In a claims-made system, if an incident occurred before your period of insurance but within the ‘retroactive cover date’ specified by your policy, then you may still be eligible to claim, so long as you’re currently insured. However, if a lawsuit is brought against you during a period in which you are not insured, even if the incident occurred during your cover period, then you will not be able to claim.

Finding the Right Policy

As medical indemnity insurance is compulsory in Australia, it’s a competitive area for insurance providers. This means that while it can be difficult to find and develop an ideal insurance plan, there are many opportunities for those with experience to optimise their cover.

Some insurers, for example, will offer discounts to professionals who are new to private practice or who comply with certain accreditation standards. Contracting the services of an insurance broker can help you to navigate through the many hurdles of finding adequate cover and take advantage of such opportunities. They will also be able to create a customised insurance cover which is cost-effective and best suits your needs.

As more expensive policies won’t necessarily be a better fit, it’s important that healthcare and medical professionals compare the differences between covers and providers. Whichever cover you decide on, professional medical indemnity insurance is essential to protecting your practice, funds and reputation.

Author’s Bio:

This article was written by Daniel Defendi, who writes for Professional Essentials in Perth. You can catch him on Google+ to discuss this piece.

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