Insurance is something that will never go out of style, even with all the trends that come and go. Let’s face it – life is risky and the possibility of an accident lurks at every corner. The workplace is no exception and it deserves particular attention given that it’s your source of income and any risk could threaten your livelihood along with your reputation and savings.
Still, some professions are riskier than others, as in the example with working in healthcare and having people’s lives at stake. This is why indemnity medical insurance is more than essential, both for medical practitioners and patients.
You might have all the years of experience in your field, but this still doesn’t mean you’re safe from errors, after all, to err is human, so the only way to go about it is to protect yourself with a suitable insurance coverage. Even in a country with a safe medical system, as in the case with Australia, there’s the need for this, especially since errors or negligence can be the reason for claims made years after a certain treatment (because symptoms take longer to be manifest).
As of 2002, during the medical indemnity crisis in the country, when the number of lawsuits as well as claims of damages came to an all-time high and medical practitioners feared for the future of their professions, the government decided to abandon medical indemnity funds and bring stability within the insurance industry by passing reforms and making it mandatory for medical indemnity coverage to be offered as insurance.
Years later since these reforms proved to be essential, it’s still the same: only Australian authorised insurers can provide this coverage. There are five insurers listed by the Department of Health:
1. TEGO (underwritten by Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company);
2. MIPS (Medical Indemnity Protection Society);
3. MIGA (Medical Insurance Group Australia);
4. MDA National;
Choosing Your Coverage
As a requirement for registration with AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency), the body that supports the MBA (Medical Board of Australia), every medical practitioner in private practice must have indemnity medical insurance. In case you don’t want to get covered through your employer’s arrangements, you can always look for your own insurer.
Though the typical policies within Australia provide $20 million cover, there are some insurers and some instances when there’s more than this amount, so this is an aspect you should look into prior to deciding on the coverage. With TEGO, for instance, you get double the cover in case a specific claim exhausts your limit.
Also, you ought to consider whether the insurer offers any of the following covers:
- · reputation protection covering legal costs in claim defence and public relations consultant costs;
- · public patients cover;
- · privacy risks if there are fines from breaches of privacy laws;
- · “retroactive” tail cover for unexpected gaps with maternity leaves or any practice previously undertaken;
- · needle stick cover if the insured is faced with a disease that affects the practice (requiring retirement, revision or retraining);
- · minimising gaps in insurance protection by covering practice activities;
- · medico-legal assistance.
Coverage for defence costs and flexible renewal dates with the policies are also welcome properties, and if you’re having doubts regarding which of the policies and insurers you can benefit from the most, it’s best to consider consulting a broker experienced in this kind of insurance.
The more responsibilities you have, the riskier it is. Since every practice is different, there are different risks to evaluate which can be done by having in mind the types of medical services offered, as well as the kind of clinic you manage (if you’re the employer) – how many people are employed, who are your medical and business partners, and whether there are rented rooms.
In terms of personal insurance, you get it by being assessed on your qualifications, experience and the history of claims (if any). Often, people forget the necessity to get the whole practice insured thinking the personal coverage to be enough, yet anyone making a claim on a doctor could also make a claim on the whole clinic, which is why it ought to be part of the package too.
It’s important to understand that the indemnity medical insurance in Australia is made on a claims-made basis, different from countries where they have a claims-incurred basis approach. With the first type, the medical practitioner is supposed to notify the insurer once they become aware of the claim, whereas with the latter, the claim is covered any time throughout the cover period.
Finally, this is why it is necessary to always have the needed insurance – even when you work abroad for a while (get insured before leaving the country), regardless whether it’s providing medical help or only lecturing, or you’re working outside the workplace by volunteering.