Why public liability cover is important for doctors
Sunday, 16 August 2020
As a healthcare professional, you may cause personal or property damage that is not related to your provision of healthcare. For example, someone could slip on a wet floor at your practice or trip on the steps. These events are not covered by your professional indemnity insurance, so it’s important to consider whether you should have public liability insurance to cover these events.
In some instances, your hospital or practice may provide cover for public liability. In other cases, your contract with a hospital or practice will specifically require you to hold public liability insurance. Even if your contract does not require you to hold public liability insurance, you may be liable for damage to property or injuries caused to another person outside of the healthcare you are providing.
Which policy will apply?
Determining whether a matter falls under public liability insurance or professional indemnity insurance is not a straight forward process. In simple terms, public liability insurance covers compensation claims made by a member of the public for injury or damage such as slips or trips on premises owned by a third party.
On the other hand, professional indemnity insurance covers compensation claims made by a patient or client for a professional mistake. For example, a mistake made by a doctor while providing healthcare to a patient.
If the incident did not occur while you were providing healthcare, the matter may be considered public liability.
There are many complexities when it comes to understanding the two types of insurance and what they cover. It’s important to remember:
- All patients are members of the public, but if a professional error has occurred, the matter will likely fall under a doctor’s professional indemnity insurance.
- Professional indemnity insurance provides cover when a claim arises from the professional practice of a member, and not simply any liability arising during the course of their work.
Who should have public liability cover?
If you own a business or work as a contractor, you may be liable for compensation for injuries caused to another person or damage to property. Public liability cover is important even if you don’t have business premises. If you are employed by a practice or hospital, they will generally have public liability insurance that will cover you. If you are not an employee, you will likely be liable for damage to a person or property, or your contract may require you to hold public liability insurance. Therefore, you should consider obtaining public liability insurance in either case.
There are certain situations where you may be required to have public liability insurance. For example, if you are a contractor, your contract with a hospital or practice may state that you must have your own public liability insurance. Increasingly, hospitals and practices require doctors to have public liability cover in addition to their medical indemnity insurance. Most rental agreements for commercial premises (such as rented rooms) also require the tenant to have public liability insurance.
How can we help?
Avant offers public and products liability insurance under the Avant Business Insurance policy#. Doctors are eligible to take out this cover if they are an Avant member and have an ABN under which they provide healthcare.
You can apply for public and products liability insurance by contacting us on 1800 128 268, or download the application form.
IMPORTANT: #Avant Insurance Limited ABN 82 003 707 471, AFSL 238 765 arranges Avant Business Insurance as agent of the insurer Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850, AFSL 234 708. The information provided here is general advice only. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us. For full details including the terms, conditions, and exclusions that apply, please read and consider the policy wording and Product Disclosure Statement which is available at avant.org.au or by contacting us on 1800 128 268.