Insurance considerations for medical professionals in the COVID-19 pandemic

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Professional indemnity and public liability insurance is a must for medical professionals such as doctors, who are typically covered by specialist group schemes. 

But no matter which policies you are covered by, it’s important to understand how your insurance works if you are vaccinating patients against COVID-19.

Doctors will typically be covered for administering the COVID-19 vaccination in the same way they are covered for other vaccines if they are a member of a Medical Defence Organisation (MDO) such as MDA National.

But make sure to closely check the policy to understand its terms and any conditions and exclusions. MDA National indicates vaccine manufacturers are responsible for certain claims related to adverse advents that don’t involve claims of negligence.

MDA National doesn’t expect general practitioners in private practice they are already covering to advise them they are administering the COVID-19 vaccine. Although doctors working in the public hospital who are administering the vaccine outside this environment should advise the MDO so appropriate cover can be put in place.

“MDA National indicates vaccine manufacturers are responsible for certain claims related to adverse advents that don’t involve claims of negligence”

It also advises doctors who work in the public hospital system who are not an employee of the organisation to check whether they are indemnified by the hospital. Doctors who are coming out of retirement to deliver the vaccine are covered for free, says MDA National.

MDA National also recommends exploring whether a Practice Indemnity Policy may be appropriate to insure both the practice and its staff, who are typically not covered by MDA National’s policy.

Cover aside, it is important for health professionals to closely follow vaccine manufacturers’ instructions and protocols, for instance storing the vaccine at the specified temperature. This will help reduce any risks to which the GPs delivering the vaccine may be exposed.

Cover for allied health professionals

Additionally, while doctors are likely to be covered by their existing professional indemnity and public liability policies, people working in other areas of heath such as in a pharmacy are not likely to be covered if they deliver the vaccine, explains Steadfast Group broker technical manager Michael White.

“While in the past insurers have been prepared to cover allied health enterprises such as pharmacies for administering the flu vaccine, for instance, many policies exclude cover for
anybody involved in COVID vaccinations,” he says.

White says it’s likely this solution will be resolved over time as insurers become more comfortable with the risks around the new COVID-19 vaccinations and amend their policies accordingly.

White’s advice for allied health workers to obtain cover is to work with their Steadfast broker to identify policies that do not have these exclusions. This is important with flu season coming up, given the exclusions can extend to regular vaccines such as flu shots, which are often administered by pharmacies or even nursing homes, especially in rural and regional areas.

Important note: this general information is provided to assist you in understanding some of the terms, implications and common considerations in professional indemnity and public liability insurance. It does not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation or needs. It is also not financial advice, nor complete, so please discuss the full details with your Steadfast insurance broker as to whether this type of insurance is appropriate for you.  Professional indemnity and public liability insurance usually has a deductible/excess, exclusions and limits of liability. Policies differ between insurers.

Important notice – Steadfast Group Limited ABN 98 073 659 677 and Steadfast Network Brokers

This article provides information rather than financial product or other advice. The content of this article, including any information contained in it, has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the information, taking these matters into account, before you act on any information. In particular, you should review the product disclosure statement for any product that the information relates to it before acquiring the product.





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