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Get more from your insurance provider - Towergate Insurance

When it comes to taking out an insurance policy that covers the specialist needs of a medical practice, it is a big responsibility for the decision maker to take on. With so many different providers, all offering slightly different things, it can be something of a minefield. This article attempts to make this easier with a guide to what covers are important and how decision makers can ensure they have the peace of mind that they’ve chosen the best policy for their practice.


The basics – what are the core covers?

It may sound obvious, but there are some core covers that most insurance policies should offer, with an element of flexibility to ensure limits are tailored to your practice. You should consider all risks cover, that gives at least the option to extend this cover outside of the practice so any equipment that is taken away, by patients or for home visits, is also covered against accidental damage.


When choosing the limits for the core covers, you should be sure that it is sufficient to replace all contents in the case of a total loss, on a new for old basis (how much it would cost to replace today, not necessarily how much you paid for it) – and also the accurate rebuild cost of the building itself. There are companies who can help you to ensure you have the correct rebuild cost, and specialist brokers like Towergate should be able to provide you with suggestions of those who could help with this.


You should also ensure that standard cover is provided within these limits for money, glass, signs and nameplates – which a specialist medical insurance provider should understand the importance of and include as standard cover. You should also ensure both refrigerated and non-refrigerated vaccines and drugs are fully covered. One of the most common claims we receive are for vaccines that have had to be disposed of due to a fridge malfunctioning or being accidently turned off. As this results in vaccines being unusable, you should have cover in place to replace the contents of fridges should this happen. You should pay particular attention to any limits imposed per fridge, to ensure that fridges are not being over-filled. For example, the standard limit per fridge offered by Towergate is £5,000 – unless otherwise agreed with the insurer.


A major interruption – how would your surgery cope?

In the event of a complete loss claim (for example as the result of a fire or flood), rebuilding the practice and replacing all the fixtures, fittings and contents within it is just one part of the picture. Should the practice be unusable for any period of time, consideration must be given to how the practice continues to run and deliver care to its patients, which it may be contractually obliged to do.


You should therefore take out a policy that includes business interruption cover. This is designed to help a practice get back on its feet as quickly as possible in the event of a total loss, which includes operating from an alternative, suitable premises where possible while the practice is being restored or covering contractual financial commitments in the event that they cannot be delivered. 


The protection provided by different providers can vary substantially, so you should take time to understand the level of cover for business interruption that is being offered and how much you feel you need. Towergate provide up to £4 million over 24 months as standard, giving you up to 2 years to get things back to normal, if needed.


Ensuring your practice insurance policy provides this cover is crucial, but a responsible insurance broker would also strongly advise you to also have a Business Continuity Plan in place that is practical and able to realistically be used in an emergency situation.


Due to the importance of being able to act quickly and efficiently in an emergency situation, some brokers will provide you with tools and resources to support you in doing so. For example, Towergate provide an online portal free of charge for all surgery customers which includes a specific section on business continuity planning. More information can be found later in this article.


Preparing for the unexpected

Liability insurance is extremely important, especially for business such as medical practices where the general public are in and out all day. There are two main types of liability insurance that a practice should consider. The first is public liability and the second is one of only two types of insurance that is legally required; employer’s liability.


Slips, trips and falls make up the majority of public liability claims, so while taking proactive steps to avoid claims, such as keeping areas free of clutter, cleaning up spillages quickly and fixing raised carpet edges, incidents can still happen – especially in today’s compensation-driven climate. It is therefore important that you have a reasonable amount of cover against public liability claims. A limit of £5 million is standard in the majority of policies but contracts may require this to be increased to £10 million.


It is never too early to inform your broker about a possible liability claim. As soon as an incident occurs that could lead to a claim, you should let your provider know as soon as possible. Most policies will have a stringent process that needs to be followed, including what information should be provided and when, what communication you should have with any injured parties and what evidence will be required to process the claim, so the earlier you seek the correct advice, the smoother the process will be. 


Employers liability insurance is a cover that is required by law for any business that has employees, so it is very important that you have this cover in place as part of your package surgery policy. Typically, the limit for employers’ liability is £10 million, and this is what Towergate provide as standard.


Getting more from your provider

In addition to the covers stated above, most specialist insurance providers in the medical sector will also offer additional benefits for their customers to support them. These benefits will vary from provider to provider so how appealing they are for each practice will depend on what is important to them.


One added benefit provided by Towergate is an online risk support portal that is designed to provide practical guidance and advice on health and safety, HR and business continuity, as well as access to 11 accredited e-learning modules to assist with the management and embedding of procedures. This portal is provided by one of our partner suppliers Health and Safety Click.


With a whole host of templates, procedures and processes, the portal is designed to make a real contribution to supporting a practice to meet health and safety and HR obligations, including giving templates for things like employee handbooks and HR policies, where required. This not only supports the practice in those areas that are most important, but it also helps to minimise risk at the same time – which hopefully means your practice can avoid making claims.


Did you know the average cost of covering an absent GP is £2,800 per week?

In addition to insurance for the practice itself, specialist medical insurance providers can also support you with a policy to cover the cost of staff absence.


Being blunt, staff absence is often unavoidable, and with surgeries under more pressure than ever, it is inevitable that absence can have a huge impact on a surgery that is already stretched. Some surgeries choose to self-manage this by putting aside money each year to pay for the cost of locums to come in and cover sessions, whilst other surgeries choose to take out a locum insurance policy to cover this cost. 


Self-managing gives you control over how the money is spent and if you have low absence, can be the best approach. However, you run the risk of going substantially over budget if you experience any significant long-term absence.


If you choose to take out insurance, think about who you would need to cover. Most locum insurance policies will insure named GP’s and this can involve a lengthy quotation process and will require mid-term adjustments if a GP leaves or joins during the life of the policy. A small number of insurance brokers offer a locum policy that covers everyone employed in the practice as they recognise that everyone is crucial in providing care to patients and keeping a surgery running seamlessly.


NHS Sickness Reimbursement Scheme

With the recent changes to the GP contract sickness reimbursement scheme, many surgeries are looking to rely on this in place of locum insurance. This may be suitable for a lot of practices, but for those who spend more than £1,734.18 per week on locum’s when needed, want enhanced protection for longer than 26 weeks or require cover for more than just the GP’s in their surgery, it may not provide all the cover they need. Towergate have liaised with the BMA to really understand the changes and what they will mean in reality for GP practices and as a result earlier this year launched a new locum solution; locum response. This policy is designed to work alongside the GP contract to ensure practices have the protection they need. Speak to Towergate for more detail about the policy and if it is suitable for you.


Medical Indemnity Protection

While the majority of GP’s and doctors receive their indemnity protection through defence unions, there could well be a time in a medical professional’s life where they are either unable to receive this protection from defence unions, or have a requirement for an actual insurance policy with clear limits rather than discretionary protection which is what the main defence unions offer.


Towergate can source appropriate indemnity protection for a whole host of medical professionals including GP’s, Doctors, Dentists, Nurses and Dental Nurses, as well as other medical occupations; and this can be for private, NHS and out of hours work. For more details, you can contact Towergate Insurance.


Towergate Insurance

Towergate Insurance has over 100 years’ experience providing insurance to surgeries. They specialise in providing surgery, locum, medical indemnity and specialist home insurance for medical professionals across the UK. They currently insure over 50% of GP surgeries in the UK and work with leading insurers such as AXA and Zurich. In addition, they can also offer no claims discounts for members of the CCGA, as well as corporate rates for groups and self-formed buying groups (what is this?); offering on-site visits to really understand your specialist needs and help get the level of protection to meet them.


Towergate and Towergate Insurance are trading names of Towergate Underwriting Group Limited.  Registered Address: Towergate House, Eclipse Park, Sittingbourne Rd, Maidstone, Kent ME14 3EN. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.


Content provided by Towergate Insurance. For more information please visit or call them on 0330 123 3598.

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