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Changing or buying indemnity insurance

Changing or buying indemnity insurance

A guest blog, by Stephanie Blott from MIPS.

A guest blog, by Stephanie Blott from MIPS.

Changing insurers of any sorts can be tough and medical indemnity insurance is perhaps the toughest to change. Even when it’s just your car insurance, nobody likes to explain in detail all their previous accidents and claims, especially if there are multiple incidents.

When it comes to medical practice, the likelihood you need to notify either your employer or insurer during your career is high, so changing insurers means you need to explain a whole lot of potentially embarrassing information about mistakes you made in you early career or even more recent ones. That said, practitioners shouldn’t ignore changing their provider as the cost and quality differences can be substantial.

Medical defence organisations such as the Medical Indemnity Protection Society (MIPS) receive hundreds of applications each year and appreciate that it is normal in the course of a doctor’s career for them to be involved in a few incidents that are notified to insurers. The best approach is to always be honest and up front to meet your duty of disclosure as this ensures there is no reason for an insurer to refuse assistance on these grounds in the future.

Medical indemnity insurance is a mandatory requirement of AHPRA registration. For doctors working in a hospital or large clinic, your employer may provide indemnity for you. Where this is not the case (doctors should confirm this) you must acquire it through one of the four registered providers for medical doctors, which includes MIPS.

Here are a few key questions to ask and take into consideration when choosing or changing your medical indemnity provider.

1. Am I getting services other than legal defence?

Medical defence organisations provide more than just insurance. All of them in Australia provide a 24-hour support line. For example, MIPS has a 24-hour Clinico-Legal Support line – importantly, this is staffed by experienced medical and dental practitioners, not by administrative staff – so you can speak to someone who understands the clinical nature of the incident.

Secondly, you don’t need to be under threat of being sued to contact MIPS – they can provide advice on matters well before civil proceedings begin and on a range of other matters such as AHPRA inquiries, Medicare audits or coronial inquests.

2. Does my insurance match my practice?

Far too often, practitioners are reluctant to even notify their insurer/medical defence organisation about a change in their practice. This means that as your practice changes, for example you start doing more private practice or you start doing more complex procedures (eg flaps, grafts etc) your risk has increased yet you may not have insurance cover for your practice.

The solution is simple, contact your insurer/medical defence organisation and request a quote for your practice. You can contact multiple insurers at this time to compare cost and quality. Ask plenty of questions and advise them of your practice so they can assist you to find a membership category with the most appropriate cover and lowest cost.

3. Do I get coverage for additional practice?

It’s likely that you’ll want to use your healthcare skills outside of where you work. Gratuitous healthcare in developing countries is common and organisations such as MIPS provide additional cover for this type of work as part of membership. Good Samaritan cover is common to all the Medical Defence Organisations in Australia, however, doctors should be mindful that this generally excludes the USA.

4. Am I paying too much?

If your employer provides your indemnity insurance cover, then you can acquire membership with a medical defence organisation such as MIPS on this basis. This means your membership costs far less than a doctor in private practice but you still obtain membership benefits such as Good Samaritan cover. This is common practice for thousands of Australian doctors. MIPS provides this insurance and the cost varies based on you speciality, location and how long you have been in practice. Typically, MIPS members pay less than $200 a year for this type of membership but members who want to introduce a small portion of private practice or other variation can pay more.

If you are in private practice, the amount you pay will vary substantially and you will not be able to find an easy price guide online. Even practitioners in the same location and sharing a discipline could vary substantially because of the hours they work and the amounts they bill. For this reason you should obtain an individual quote. You can obtain a quote online from a medical defence organisation such as MIPS.


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