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Get smart about surgery cover

'Cheap' is not always 'best', so it pays to compare insurance policies carefully.

Target for thieves: make sure that you correctly calculate the value of on-site drugs stock and equipment (Photograph: Istock)
Target for thieves: make sure that you correctly calculate the value of on-site drugs stock and equipment (Photograph: Istock)

In the ever-growing digital universe, price remains the key search differentiator in people's buying behaviour, and price comparison websites are now de rigueur for people keen to minimise price while maximising choice.

Such sites include those comparing the prices of various insurance products, but there is a fundamental drawback: one site does not fit all.

If you only realise this when you claim on a cheap policy and are told the policy does not in fact provide all the cover you thought, it is too late.

General insurance is traded openly on sites ranking results by lowest price first and the scramble for more business has seen specialist products sold in this way, with the medical and caring sector a major target.

Surgery and locum insurance policies are two areas where using price comparison sites can lead to buying less than the best cover.

You may save money on the premium itself, as well as time arranging the insurance. But with these sites it is often not possible to access professional advice from a specialist provider.

So if using a comparison site for practice-related (or personal) insurance cover needs, check if the site allows for the basic elements in the checklist below (see box).

When you consider the detailed needs of the practice, it may well become apparent that using a knowledgeable broker is a better way to meet your specific surgery cover needs.

  • Jason Brown is head of sales at specialist insurance provider for medical professionals, Towergate MIA
Policy checklist
  • Match the insurance to your practice requirements. Does it include the types of cover that you need for the practice? Make sure you pick the cover that is right for your practice.
  • Whether covering surgery contents, drugs stock or any equipment kept on the premises, be sure to calculate the right amount of cover - insurers will only pay a claim up to the amount of your cover.
  • Some insurers include additional cover in their standard policies. Others provide basic cover and let you add optional covers and charge accordingly. Make sure you do not pay for cover that is not needed.
  • Insurance policies have certain conditions that you must adhere to for a claim to be valid. For example, to be covered for theft, the insurer will stipulate security precautions such as an approved alarm, specific locks on external doors and so on. It is vital you comply.
  • Are there material changes you need to advise the insurer about? For instance, let the insurer know immediately if the practice acquires new diagnostic equipment or drugs stock levels have risen due to a seasonal requirement.
  • Always read policy documents carefully to check the extent of the cover and what the exclusions are.
  • Keep a record of any claims previously made. Insurers take past claims into account, so confirm any remedial steps taken to avoid a re-occurrence. This may lower the cost.

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