Over the years, purchasing professional indemnity insurance has grown into a must-do activity for medical practitioners across the world. According to Harvard Medical School, 7.4% of doctors get sued for malpractice each year. In many countries, including Malaysia, several cases have caught the attention of the healthcare industry, the government and the general public. In the recent past,
Malaysia has seen a sharp increase in the number of medical malpractice cases.
- Man wins RM300K in a hospital negligence suit
- Malaysian housewife sues govt specialist for RM20mil over negligence
- Medical negligence: Court awards girl, 9, RM2.78 million
According to the Attorney General’s Chambers in Malaysia, the average num3ber of medical negligence cases is still rising by over 46.8%! The Malaysian government is currently in the process of amending the Medical Act and the Medical Regulations to make professional indemnity insurance mandatory for all doctors to renew their annual practising certificates.
It is clear that purchasing medical indemnity insurance is a critical need of the hour. Hence, as a medical professional in 2019 – you should be equipped with enough information to make an informed decision. Given the lifetime of mental and financial stress, it is likely to save for you, there are certain questions you have to ask before purchasing medical indemnity insurance. To simplify matters for you, here are 5 of them that can help you make this life-changing decision.
1. What are your liability limits?
You have to be clear about the highest amount you will be paid for any particular claim and the highest amount you will be paid per year – as per your medical indemnity insurance policy. You can set your own limits or share your limits with your employer/employees. There are enough recent cases in Malaysia to show that litigation can be an extremely costly and painful process. Hence, you must ensure that your limits are generous enough to cover your worst-case scenarios. It should include all settlements – awards of damages/costs and legal costs.
2. What are your obligations under the policy?
Depending on the type of medical indemnity insurance policy, you must fulfil certain conditions in order to continue being protected by your provider. Some of them include your obligations to reveal personal claims history, to inform the provider of any changes to your medical practice such as the use of alternative and complementary medicine, etc. You also have to be aware of exclusions in your policy like fraudulence, criminal acts, sexual misconduct, etc.
3. Is your policy claims-made or occurrence-based?
Professional liability insurance for medical professionals in Malaysia is often provided in two primary forms – claims-made and occurrence. In claims-made policies, you have coverage only for cases that occur while you are insured by your provider. The incident and the filing of the claim must have happened while the policy between you and the provider was in effect. Unless you have opted for “tail coverage”, you cannot be covered for claims arising after your policy has expired.
In occurrence-based policies, the claim has to occur while your medical indemnity insurance policy is in place, regardless of when it is reported to your insurance company. New limits are set when your occurrence policy has to be annually renewed.
4. Is there a consent-to-settle clause?
It is of utmost importance to check whether your medical indemnity insurance policy specifies that a claim against you cannot be settled unless you have given your written consent. Without the “consent-to-settle” clause, your insurer will have the legal right to settle a case against your decision. You can save a lot of time and money while finding peace of mind by making counteroffers or finalising settlements. So, be in control of decisions that can impact your personal and professional life.
Some policies have the “hammer clause” which takes effect when you refuse the settlement recommendation. In such cases, even if the trial results in a higher settlement amount – you must pay it.
5. Are you covered for privacy liability and regulatory violations?
In the medical industry, many individuals and organisations tend to ignore the risks of data security breaches and regulatory violations. Health data breach is growing into a global problem. Reports have shown that “medical data is almost worth 10 times more than a credit card number on the black market”. Considering how much data is getting stored online, medical professionals need to be protected against privacy liability issues that are related to data security breaches. Additionally, with the rise of complex regulations and non-compliance penalties, you can seek protection against regulatory-related risks, as well.
No matter if you are a doctor, a nurse or any other medical practitioner, you must be proactive about seeking protection against unlawful lawsuits and unfortunate circumstances. A single lawsuit is all it takes to make the rest of your life a rocky road that leaves you emotionally, physically and financially drained. But, once you have the answers to these questions, you will be in a position to select the right type of medical indemnity insurance policy; one that is tailor-made to meet your practice needs and future plans. More importantly, one that can give you peace of mind for a lifetime.
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