At this time of year when most medical practitioners are looking at renewing their medical indemnity insurance for the next 12 months, it is time to consider your options – and importantly, know you have them. Contrary to popular belief, not all policies are the same, and not all premiums are the same – you do have a choice.

Medical indemnity insurers are professional indemnity insurers for doctors who understand their unique requirements. They may also provide additional support services, such as a 24/7 direct line to highly specialized medical lawyers when doctors need advice regarding their legal obligations and potential liabilities in any given situation.

All medical indemnity insurers in Australia must meet the minimum product standards prescribed in the Commonwealth Medical Indemnity (Prudential Supervision and Product Standards) Act 2003.

All practising medical practitioners must be indemnified or insured for their entire scope of practice, whether via their employer’s indemnity arrangements or through their own medical indemnity insurer. If your insurance or indemnity arrangements specifically exclude any aspect of practice you must not practise in that area. If you discover that you no longer have appropriate professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place, you must notify the Medical Board of this within 7 days.

It is generally understood that medical indemnity insurance covers personal liabilities that may arise out of your provision of healthcare (including legal costs) such as by way of civil claims (ie. claims in medical negligence), and non-civil claims such as coronial inquests and professional or disciplinary complaints (different policies apply different sub-limits to non-civil claims). Some (not all) policies additionally cover you for costs involved in protecting your reputation (eg. in the event of adverse social media), pursuing or defending defamation claims, Medicare audits, employment disputes, breach of privacy, tax audits, and loss of income if you need to attend court. Some (not all) policies impose deductibles (or excesses) which must be paid before assistance will be provided under your policy. Some policy wordings are ambiguous as to whether cover is included for treatment of public hospital patients if you are not otherwise indemnified.

In accordance with AHPRA’s registration requirements, your insurance must also include appropriate retroactive cover for all prior practice in Australia, so it is important you check the retroactive date under your policy (as prior to this date you will not be covered), or whether your retroactive cover is unlimited (in which case you will be fully covered).

If you provide any medical services overseas, even in the form or teaching or lecturing, you should check with your insurer if you are covered.

Your choice of medical indemnity insurer may potentially impact your livelihood, reputation, and potentially your savings, so it is important to do your homework. Read your policy, understand the way your premium is calculated (including whether additional payments can be requested in retrospect) – and consider your options.

This publication is general in nature and is not comprehensive or constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal, medical or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Tego Insurance Pty Ltd is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss su­ffered in connection with the use of this information.