We know Australia’s health system is quite safe, but unfortunately, due to human error things can go wrong and patients may be harmed in the process. We live in tough, unpredictable times, facing the coronavirus pandemic that has affected our health and our everyday lives. Medical indemnity insurance is a compulsory condition of registration for all medical practitioners and it’s not a new thing.
It is a specialised form of coverage that plays a vital role within the Australian health system and provides insurance to all medical practitioners and their patients in the event of an adverse incident during medical care. It’s also a condition of registration for allied health professionals – dentists, chiropractors, pharmacists, psychologists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, osteopaths, midwives, nurses and optometrists.
Medical professional indemnity insurance is designed to cover every stage of your medical career, from medical studies to training and through the active years of your medical practice until the day of your retirement and beyond.
What Does It Cover and How Can You Benefit from It?
Medical liability insurance covers you for both legal costs and the costs of awarded compensation in case you’re found to have caused harm by negligence, omission or committing an error. If you’re training in a hospital, it covers you if your medical services to a patient result in a claim against the hospital.
Indemnity medical insurers provide specialised medical professional indemnity insurance to doctors in Australia. Even more, you can choose this insurance with additional support services including 24/7 direct line to highly experienced medical lawyers for doctors who need advice regarding certain legal obligations and potential liabilities in any given situation.
Not all policies are the same, and just because you’ve been with one insurer for a long time it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the best choice for you. Even if they’ve assisted you at some point, you’re not obliged to stay with the same insurer and you can evaluate your options and consider other insurers at any time.
All practising medical practitioners must be insured or otherwise indemnified for their scope of practice, via their employer’s medical indemnity arrangements or through their own indemnity medical insurer. All doctors in private practice must have their personal medical professional indemnity insurance and it’s a requirement for registration with AHPRA.
In case your insurance or indemnity arrangements exclude some aspect of practice you mustn’t practice in that field. If you notice that your indemnity insurance arrangements are not appropriate, make sure to notify the Medical Board within 7 days.
Generally, the professional indemnity will not cover your practice entity or employees and you’ll need a separate policy for that. In Australia, all medical liability insurers must meet the minimum product standards prescribed in the Commonwealth Medical Indemnity (Prudential Supervision and Product Standards) Act 2003.
All indemnity medical insurance policies cover personal liabilities that can come out of your provision of healthcare, together with legal costs, by way of civil claims and non-civil claims as well, to a more variable extent. All policies in Australia typically provide $20 million coverage, but still, different policies apply different sub-limits to non-civil claims.
The TEGO policy is unique in the indemnity medical insurance as it offers some benefits that you can’t find with other insurers. TEGO is underwritten by one of the five national medical liability insurers for doctors, the Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, which is part of Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity group of insurance companies.
Medical liability insurance is provided on a claims-made basis, which gives the insurer greater control over the predictability of claims. It means that you’re required to notify your insurer as soon as you become aware of a claim. In case you switch insurers, any claims made under one policy will still be covered by that policy. Also, your insurance needs to include adequate retroactive cover, sometimes referred to as tail cover, for all prior practice in Australia, so make sure to check the retroactive date under your policy.
TEGO policy covers for Privacy Act Breaches, including Fines, and cover for the cost of notifying patients and regulators if you have a privacy breach. Also, it provides coverage for Defence costs and fines for any statutory breaches. TEGO policy is not mutual insurance but raises risks individually.
Premiums are most commonly assessed by the doctor’s state of practice, specialisation, claims history and billings band. Not all insurers adopt the same pricing approach and some may specifically assess your premium following your risk profile. Also, some insurers offer discounts to reward compliance with certain accreditation standards or to assist you if you’re new to private practice.
To ensure you’ll make the right decision, you may contact an insurance broker who can give a piece of independent advice and help you understand which product is best for you. It’s an important decision as your choice of medical liability insurer can impact your reputation, livelihood and savings. Therefore, it’s crucial to investigate your options and find the best policy that meets your individual needs.
Before taking action based on the information available on this page, make sure to consider your own situation and the relevant laws and seek advice that takes account of your particular set of circumstances. This content is general and is not comprehensive or constitute legal or medical advice.