Everything You Need to Know About Professional Indemnity Insurance

Even with all the preparation and training in the world, sometimes things don’t go to plan.

Healthcare professionals know this better than most.

While many may see these unexpected situations as part of the job, professional indemnity insurance is there to help you deal with any of the potential consequences.

What is professional indemnity insurance?

Professional indemnity insurance, also known as ‘professional liability insurance’ or ‘medical malpractice’, provides a safety net for healthcare professionals.

It effectively protects you against any claims of negligence or malpractice that may come about when performing your professional duties.

Having a policy offers a shield, financial protection, legal support and peace of mind should you need to deal with a patient claim.

Why is having indemnity insurance important within healthcare?

Professional indemnity insurance is relevant to various industries, but it’s always been important within healthcare. This is especially true in today’s day and age, with society growing more and more litigious.

Figures by NHS England and the NHS Resolution – the body responsible for resolving NHS concerns and disputes – show that patient claims and clinical negligence payouts have both steadily increased year-on-year.

Therefore, with patients more prone to pursuing legal action when they feel they’ve been mistreated or neglected, this has created an environment where having robust indemnity insurance is no longer recommended – it’s essential.

Who needs to have professional indemnity insurance?

Legally speaking, all regulated healthcare professionals are required to be covered by a professional indemnity insurance policy per The Health Care and Associated Professionals Order 2014.

This means that, regardless of whether you’re a surgeon, neurosurgeon, nurse, doctor, pharmacist, dentist or therapist, you must have some form of protection in place.

However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to professional indemnity insurance. Instead, you will need to identify the right type and level of cover based on three key factors:

  • Your role (and any specialisms)
  • Your current career stage
  • Your work location

Depending on where you work and the type you do, an existing policy may already protect you. Workers in the NHS, for example, are usually protected through a clinical negligence scheme applicable to their hospital covering employees.

On the other hand, if you work in the private sector, even if your employer protects you through a corporate indemnity arrangement, you may still need your own personal indemnity insurance policy, so it’s important to check.

The reason is that insurance arrangements can vary from employer to employer. So, your employer’s existing policy may not offer the entire level of protection you need for the precise role or responsibilities you provide.

What does indemnity insurance cover?

Generally, most forms of indemnity insurance will protect you against:

  • Surgical errors
  • Postoperative complications
  • Patient misdiagnoses or delayed diagnoses
  • Consent-related issues
  • Lack of communication
  • Insufficient safeguarding policies

However, each healthcare professional’s policy will differ slightly due to factors like your insurance provider, policy type and any unique cover options, which all affect the exact terms of what (and how much) you’re covered for.

What types of indemnity insurance cover are there?

Professional indemnity insurance comes in two primary forms: discretionary and contract-certain cover.

Medical Defence Organisations (MDOs) offer discretionary indemnity, meaning the decisions over whether to cover you are at your provider’s discretion.

On the other hand, contract-certain cover operates under a legally binding agreement, offering specified cover that’s clearly outlined in your policy’s terms.

You can learn more about the differences between these two types of indemnity insurance by downloading our dedicated guide to medical malpractice indemnity.

As part of both policies, you can also add various coverage options. For example, these can include:

  • Claims-made cover: Covers claims made during your policy period relating to any work undertaken from your policy’s retroactive date.

  • Occurrence-based: Offers protection for claims arising from events while the policy was in effect, regardless of when someone filed the claim and whether that insurer still provides the indemnity.

  • Run-off cover: provides ongoing protection for healthcare professionals by extending cover for a period that can be as much as 25 years after you’ve stopped practising.

What benefits can having a tailored professional indemnity insurance policy provide?

As there is no one-size-fits-all approach to professional indemnity insurance, you must tailor your policy to ensure you’re fully protected in the way you believe.

In doing so, this can offer several benefits:

  • Financial protection: Safeguards your professional and personal assets against potential patient claims and any associated legal expenses.
  • Medico-legal support: Provides access to expert legal assistance and representation throughout your claims process through a dedicated helpline.
  • Complete peace of mind: Offers reassurance and confidence by allowing you to deliver professional services without fear of litigation.
  • Cover for defence costs: Includes all legal representation fees, court expenses and expert witness fees, ensuring comprehensive support during any potential legal proceedings.
  • Access to risk management resources: Provides ongoing access to educational materials and best practice guidelines to enhance patient safety and minimise your risk.

You can learn more about these benefits by reading our dedicated article on the benefits of professional medical indemnity insurance.

What should you look for when choosing an insurance provider?

When deciding whether to take out your policy with an MDO or a specialist insurance provider, you should ask yourself several questions. For example:

  • What is their reputation like?
  • Are they financially stable?
  • Are they regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority?
  • Do they specialise in offering medical indemnity insurance?
  • What is their claims handling process like?
  • Do they provide ongoing support and access to risk management resources?
  • Are their policies customisable to your needs?
  • Do they have experience within the healthcare sector?
  • Do they keep up to date with the latest changes in clinical governance regarding indemnity insurance?

By determining the answers to each of these questions, you will not only give yourself complete peace of mind that your policy is covering you in the way you think it is but also get back to doing what you do best: delivering high-quality patient care.

Trust THEMIS for reliable professional indemnity insurance

Healthcare professionals are trained to deal with the unexpected and so is THEMIS.

Through our team’s wealth of guidance and expertise in healthcare litigation, we can help you find the peace of mind you need with protection you can trust.

We have embraced the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to offer indemnity insurance policies tailored and designed to provide all types of healthcare professionals with cover they can rely on when it counts.

To learn more about our indemnity insurance services or ask any other burning questions, contact our team; we’d be more than happy to help.