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Medical indemnity insurance

Medical Indemnity Insurance is compulsory in Australia. Protect your reputation and money should an accident happen.

What you need to know

  • If you care for the elderly or work in a hospital, medical indemnity insurance can protect your money and your reputation should an accident happen.
  • Medical indemnity and Medical malpractice both refer to insurance that protects medical professionals from claims of negligence.
  • Medical malpractice should be on the radar of doctors and medical students, plus those who work in clinical trials, medical clinics, pathology labs and tattoo artists.

What is medical indemnity insurance?

Medical indemnity insurance gives important coverage in the event of a professional negligence claim. Claims can be financially devastating for medical practitioners. A claim can result in expensive compensation payouts as well as the additional costs associated with legal fees and disruption to a business.

How much does professional indemnity cost?

Finder ran some business insurance quotes for a NSW-based blue collar worker. We found a professional indemnity policy may cost $190.61 per month. This was the average of 2 indicative quotes and was correct as of 29 June 2023.

Why might I consider medical indemnity insurance?

With medical malpractice insurance, which is a type of business insurance, the cost of legal representation and compensation is covered. Medical liability insurance is important because it protects you in and out of the workplace, provides financial support to cover legal fees, covers the cost of compensation and allows you to help patients without worrying about the potential legal risks of your actions.

What type of errors can medical professionals and healthcare workers make?

one

Misdiagnosis.

No matter how skilled a healthcare practitioner you are, mistakes can be made. The majority of medical negligence cases involves misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. The last thing you want is a patient claiming malpractice when you aren't covered; the financial burden could be overwhelming.

two

Incorrect medication.

This can cover you when a patient is prescribed the wrong drug, receives the incorrect dosage or is given another patient's medication.

three

Prenatal care and childbirth negligence.

Childbirth and care involves a huge amount of risk. If something goes wrong, it's often that parents feel the doctors and midwife are responsible. Insurance can help cover you should you be accused of negligence.

four

Administrative errors and omissions.

You can sometimes be overwhelmed by paperwork and inevitably, mistakes can happen. Whether it's a communication breakdown or a situation that leads to wrong medication being prescribed, getting insured can help if something goes wrong.

What can happen if there is medical negligence?

If a patient believes they have been harmed or injured due to substandard care, they can seek financial compensation from the health practitioner. Depending on the injury sustained, the patient can claim the following types of compensation:

  • General damages. This refers to compensation for the pain and suffering endured by the patient as a result of medical malpractice. It includes financial recompense for a lower life expectancy, reduced enjoyment of life and reduced faculties.
  • Future loss of earnings. A patient can claim compensation for the earnings they would have received if not for the injury or harm caused by medical negligence.
  • Past loss of earnings. If a patient has been unable to work because of the injuries or harm they experienced due to medical negligence, they can claim damages for the earnings they lost in this period.
  • Exemplary damages. A healthcare practitioner guilty of medical malpractice may also face additional damages as a form of punishment. This typically occurs when the practitioner’s actions have caused grievous harm and in cases where there is a high degree of recklessness.
  • Special damages. This compensation applies to the past and ongoing cost of medical treatment the patient will need for rehabilitation. It includes related expenses such as in-house care and home modifications that are required as a result of the injuries.
  • Griffith V Kerkemeyer damages. A patient can claim on behalf of friends and family who provide gratuitous services for their care.

Who can use medical malpractice insurance?

Medical malpractice insurance can be used by a broad spectrum of healthcare professionals and centres. Those covered include:

Doctors and surgeons

Doctors and surgeons

If you are a medical student, a doctor employed in hospital, a specialist, a surgeon, or a GP, you are eligible for medical malpractice insurance. This cover also is extended to retired doctors. A doctor who retires is able to apply for "run-off" insurance to be protected against claims made for past incidents that have not yet been reported.

Note: Even if you are a doctor employed at a hospital, you should take out medical malpractice liability insurance just in case you are not covered by the hospital's insurance policy.

Medical clinics

Medical clinics

A medical clinic is at high risk of medical malpractice claims. A small failure in standard protocol such misdiagnosis and patient privacy breaches can result in multiple claims.

Tattoo Artists

Tattoo Artists

A tattoo artist or a parlour is liable for medical malpractice as there could be situations where someone injures themselves as a result of providing them your service (a tattoo).

Clinical trials

Clinical trials

A clinical trial comes with great risk of medical malpractice claims. If a patient believe they were not sufficiently warned about the possible side effects of the trial, the owners of the trial may be held professionally liable. In these situations, medical malpractice insurance can provide protection.

Pathology laboratories

Pathology laboratories

Medical malpractice insurance can be used by pathology laboratories to protect them from potential negligence cases due to misreporting diagnostic results, delays in testing samples or failure to follow proper diagnostic procedure.

What are the common features of medical malpractice insurance?

Medical malpractice insurance provides comprehensive coverage to both healthcare professionals and healthcare establishments. Common features of a medical malpractice insurance policy for an individual includes coverage for the following:

  • Civil liability. This provides cover for claims against the healthcare service provided for example breeches in patient privacy.
  • Vicarious liability. If a medical practitioner or locum doctor commits an error or omission, medical malpractice insurance will provide cover for the damages.
  • Statutory liability. This feature covers the defence costs for proceedings brought under OH&S or environmental law. It also provides cover for any fines or civil penalties imposed on the healthcare practitioner.
  • Public relations expenses. To help protect the health professional reputation, medical malpractice insurance will typically help pay for the cost of the public relations expenses needed to counter negative press.
  • Medicare fraud. For damages relating to a professionals fraudulent and dishonest claim of Medicare benefits.
  • Court attendance and advancement of claim investigation costs. For healthcare establishments, a typical medical malpractice insurance policy will include cover for civil liabilities, Good Samaritan acts, fundraising and social activities, investigation costs, loss of and property damage claims. For a private practice, most policies will offer up to $20 million to cover civil liabilities.
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Make sure you read the PDS
Finder research suggests 23% of Australians can't be bothered reading the PDS. Check the PDS to make sure you are covered for what you need.

How can I get the best medical malpractice insurance?

There is a wide range of roles in the healthcare industry, that's why you need to get cover catered specifically to you.

If you work in aged care, for example, the risks you face are different from those of a surgeon. In aged care, the leading causes of claims paid are resident falls (42.7%), so making sure you're not excluded from these incidents would be important. You can check out our occupation specific guides here:

Talk to a broker about medical indemnity insurance

Frequently asked questions

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Editor

Richard Laycock is Finder’s insights editor after spending the last five years writing and editing articles about insurance. His musings can be found across the web including on MoneyMag, Yahoo Finance and Travel Weekly. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University and The Missouri School of Journalism and has a Tier 1 Certification in General Advice for Life Insurance. See full bio

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Editor

James Martin was the insurance editor at Finder. He has written on a range of insurance and finance topics for over 7 years. James often shares his insurance expertise as a media spokesperson and has appeared on Prime 7 News, WIN News, Insurance News, 7NEWS and The Guardian. He holds a Tier 1 General Insurance (General Advice) certification and a Tier 1 Generic Knowledge certification, both of which meet the requirements of ASIC Regulatory Guide 146 (RG146). See full bio

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    JeffreyJanuary 25, 2018

    I am a Medical school student in China coming to Sydney next month to do a 4 weeks Clinical placement with a Hospital in Sydney Australia. Can you please recommended an Insurance company for me to purchase Medical Malpractice Insurance for my 4 week Clinical placement. Thanks . Jeffrey

      Default Gravatar
      JoelJanuary 27, 2018

      Hi Jeffrey,

      Thanks for question. finder.com.au is a comparison service and can not recommend a single provider who can provide professional indemnity/medical malpractice insurance. However, if you complete the contact form at the top of the page, an advisor will be in touch to provide you with a quote. I hope this was helpful,

      Cheers,
      Joel

    Default Gravatar
    jenniferApril 20, 2015

    Should a hairdresser have medical malpractice insurance?

      AvatarFinder
      RichardApril 21, 2015Finder

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for your question. Medical malpractice insurance is for medical professionals.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

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