Are there alternatives to Medical Indemnity?

Medical Malpractice Insurance – It’s very large and overwhelming industry to navigate, filled with all sorts of insurers and brokers who are avidly keen on winning your services. 

It at times can also be a very sensitive subject for medical practitioners who are constantly being refused coverage, feel their policies are unjustly priced or require immediate coverage because they’ve reached their renewal date.

For those who are stressing over their policies, many questions may be rushing through your head:

“Are there any alternatives to medical indemnity?”

“Do I really have to take out indemnity or is there something else I can do?”

The answer to these questions is the same: No there is no alternative to medical indemnity insurance.

In order to practice and conduct any sort of medical procedure in the UK you must be covered by a medical indemnity policy – This is a legal requirement in the UK and non-negotiable.

If you were however to continue practice past your renewal without an insurance policy, the effects on your career would be devastating.

 

What would happen if I practiced without Medical Indemnity/Malpratice?

As it is a legal requirement within the UK, any practice without an insurance policy would be an illegal act and therefore against UK law. If you were to do this you would suffer career changing consequences.

1.        GMC will revoke your medical licence – The GMC see practicing without insurance as a huge violation and any medical practitioner caught doing so will have the right to practice taken away from them. After this, the GMC will suspend you for a certain amount of time ranging in severity depending on how serious your case is deemed. Whether your suspension is 6 months or 6 years, you will be unable to appeal for your licence until you have completed the suspension time in full. 

2.        Refused Medical Cover – Should you have done so and your insurance provider found out they could either refuse to renew your policy or increase the price of your policy in response come your renewal date. Likewise, when shopping for alternative providers, majority will decline your enquiry and refuse to offer you coverage. 

3.        Liable for all Claims – The whole point of insurance is to protect yourself from any claim made against you whilst providing professional medical services to your patients. Medical Indemnity would protect your from any medical negligence based claim and a variety of other claims depending on the individual policy’s T&Cs. However, by conducting medical work without insurance coverage, you are not protected from any claims. That means if someone makes one against you, you are the one legally responsible in full to deal with it. That means any legal costs, you will have to pay for; any reputational damage you will have to take on; etc. Everything an insurance policy does will be your responsibility to defend in the event of a claim. If this were to happen, depending on the severity of the claim, the legal and compensation costs could be so high that you end up retiring early before the GMC even has the chance to revoke your licence. Medical insurance/Negligence claims are sensitive and with that can be an overwhelming amount of money needed to pay it off from anywhere in the hundreds all the way up to the hundred thousands.

Whichever way you look it’s clear to see what the better option is: Get insurance coverage best suited to your needs and only practice when you are covered.

A good insurance policy is designed to protect you and not hurt you.

 

Is there anything else I can do to stop claims from being made against me?

While there isn’t anything else you can do instead of buying insurance, there are things you can do alongside your insurance policy to help protect yourself further.

Risk management is all about protecting yourself and creating a safe environment for your patients – reducing the likelihood and severity of any claims made against you.

Why is this important to do? You already have an insurance policy so it doesn’t matter if a claim is made against you, how bad it is, or how many there are… right?

Insurance policies are typically made on a claims made basis – coverage providing for claims made during the period of active insurance only and not before and after. Not only this, but they are renewed annually, policy pricing changing due to a variety of factors. One of these major factors might be how many claims you received the previous year, how much the cost your provider and the severity of the individual cases (e.g. fraud, sexual assault, accidentally prescribing incorrect medication, etc).

Claims can range in all sorts of prices (£500, £50’000, etc). Should you receive a claim, this may have drastic effects on your policy price come renewal. The price may be too high to pay, leaving your with a quotation you cannot accept. Even one claim could cost your future dearly.

That is why risk management is extremely important. You reduce the chances of having immediate or long term claims from occurring and help keep the price of your premium level the following year.

If you risk managed during the year and received a semi-serious claim of £500 compensation, you could argue had you not risk managed that claim could have been for £5000 instead.

A risk management strategy is a process that can take a long time to put into full effect, especially with your busy schedule as a practitioner. That’s why we have written a short and brief starter guide to risk management on our Insights & Blog page. There we have gone through some basics covering:

·         Explaining how risk management reduces the likelihood of a claim

·         Considering the risks within your working environment

·         Examples of risks

·         Analysing your medical risk exposures

·         Ways to reduce exposures in your working environment

You can read more about how to reduce the likelihood of a claim here.

 

What makes a good insurance policy? What should I be looking for? Aren’t all policies the same or are there different kinds of insurance policies I can have?

There are lots of insurance providers out there – all with their own individual products and services designed to help different professions, legal requirements and sectors.

We always recommend that you go for contractual indemnity and not discretionary. The difference is night and day too many. A discretionary indemnity policy means in the event of a claim you may not always be covered – your provider will review your case and decide if it is worth the risk of paying out for or not. If they decide not to go ahead with your claim, not only have you paid initially for a product with your provider that offers you zero protection, but you are in a financially difficult position as you will be deemed legally liable and therefore responsible for all legal and compensation costs made.                                                              

Contractual indemnity is as in the name, contractual. In the event that a claim is made, under this policy type your insurance provider will always pay out regardless the cost of the claim or its nature. Meaning you a protected via the product you have actually paid for. This is why we at Servca offer contractual indemnity only – we believe that if you have paid for protection you should get the cover you deserve when it matters most.

 

What is a Medical Negligence policy? Does it cover anything else other than negligence?

Contractual and Discretionary policies are not the only things you should look out for. Policies are all different and they cover different things. The most basic policy you can get as a healthcare professional is for Medical Negligence

This means it will cover only medical negligence (where a claim has been made due to the standard of care being below bar, resulting in medical errors, bodily harm and/or mental anguish). Should you require other forms of protection due to the nature of your professional duties, you can easily request these. Insurance providers, depending on their appetites, will allow policy extensions and all sorts of additional coverage into a base policy. While this will increase the price of a policy, it is worth it and within your best interest to ask for it if you need it.

 

I need special cover options that medical negligence won’t cover on its own – How do I go about getting the coverage that I urgently need?

The simplest answer is talk to your broker – a good broker will look at your claims history, the ins-and-outs of your profession and work with you to identify the risks in your everyday working life, and the best ways to protect against them.

If you are requesting specific extensions to your policy, for example out of hours work, and your broker is not offering you policies with this inclusion, it may be a sign you should seek out other quotations from specialist brokers who understand best the type of work you are conducting.

When working alongside a broker to cover your career you shouldn’t settle for a half-baked policy. Communicate with your potential providers and work together – the more information you provide the better the quotation you will receive.

 

I already have insurance, but my renewal date is coming up and I’m now worried that I may be declined – What should I do?

If that is the case then you need to ensure you are able to practice come your renewal date – the best way to do this is either talk to your broker beforehand, seek out other competitive quotations or both.

Many individuals often worry that by talking to other brokers about their indemnity policy they may damage the relationship with their current provider and broker, risking a pricy renewal quotation or missing out on a cheap alternative.

We understand the difficulties that come with looking for alternatives – This is why we have created a Silent Review service with this in mind.

Via our Silent Review service, we will happily overlook your policy and give you an unbiased report on what protects you, what doesn’t protect you, and how fair we think your policy is in regards to your individual needs, with no hidden fees or obligations to leave your broker. As in the name this will be ‘silently’ done, meaning you do not risk the relationship with your current provider.

We are available for our Silent Review and consultation services via 0207-846-9010 and info@servca.com