Here's what to look for before making your decision
We find it surprising just how vulnerable to serious financial risk some doctors and GP practices have become, should they need to appoint a locum to cover sickness absence. The resulting high cost could affect practice profits or even the personal remuneration of partners, depending on the practice agreement. Particularly when cover is needed for an extended period.
It's easy to rack up bills that quickly run into thousands of pounds. So it's clear that taking out an insurance policy that reimburses the cost of hiring a locum becomes an essential requirement. You should choose a policy that complements the new locum reimbursement payments from NHS England (or any discretionary locum allowance provided elsewhere).
Making an informed choice
As locum insurance is a specialist product, you should always talk to a financial adviser with experience of working with GPs and practices. Our Financial Consultants are dedicated purely to the needs of GPs and Practice Managers and have an excellent understanding of the financial and business challenges you face.
Make sure you know exactly what is covered
This is always important. Your locum insurance policy should include an 'own occupation' definition. This is important if the insured person can't carry out their specific job due to illness or injury. If the policy states 'any suited occupation', it means there won't be a pay out if they can still do other types of work based on their knowledge and experience.
For example, a GP may not be able to physically see patients, but could still be considered fit enough to work. You and your partners have trained hard to get where you are and it is only right that the policy reflects this. So with an 'own occupation' definition, it means a claim can be made irrespective of whether the GP, or other members of staff, can still carry out other roles.
You should also make sure the policy still pays out if you decide to cover any absence by re-allocating resource in-house, rather than employing a locum.
Look for a policy that offers permanent cover
Make sure you confirm that the terms and conditions are permanent throughout the entire term of the policy. This means that as long your practice continues to meet the terms and conditions, the plan cannot be cancelled by the insurer, regardless of the number of claims or changes to medical history.
Take extra care to check that terms don't change during the renewal periods each year and comes with guaranteed options, so you can increase the cover without having to provide further medical evidence.
It's important to consider the length of any 'deferred period'. The longer the length of time between the date the insured staff member is taken ill and the date the insurance payments are made, the cheaper the premium. However, a long period is not always the best option.
Get role replacement and sick pay benefits
If you work within a larger practice, you should also consider a policy that incorporates role replacement cover for key people such as practice managers or specialist nurses. Some policies can also be used to cover contractual sick pay benefits for practice staff.
Read the policy carefully before you sign anything. Make sure it suits the needs of your practice and the individuals it covers.
Don't risk losing out - arrange locum insurance before illness or injury strikes
It's important to remember, when comparing locum insurance policies, that cover is only really effective if it's in place before someone falls ill. Early planning, understanding what's on offer and selecting the right product for the needs of the practice is crucial. It could mean the difference between a smooth running practice or a surge of disgruntled patients and heavy expense.
If you'd like to discuss any of the issues covered here, simply arrange an appointment with your local Wesleyan Financial Consultant. They'll be happy to meet you at a time and place that suits you.
See more at: www.wesleyan.co.uk/common/locum-insurance-tips
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