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Why do I need indemnity insurance?

A quick guide for new resident doctors and healthcare grads.

Over 90 percent of New Zealand medical professionals only carry discretionary, rather than assured, professional indemnity insurance, exposing themselves to significant professional and personal risk - – taking care of your future career starts now.

You’ve done the hard work to complete your degree, don’t skip your due diligence on choosing professional insurance. Check out the below tips on what indemnity insurance actually means and what to look at when choosing your provider.

What is indemnity insurance?

Indemnity insurance is for anyone who provides paid, professional advice or services to individuals or businesses, in case those services go wrong in some way.

In New Zealand, medical practitioners are generally required to have indemnity insurance by their employer.

Even if it’s not a requirement, it’s something you should seriously think about. Every healthcare provider in New Zealand can expect to receive about one complaint a year, and it is always advisable to seek professional advice before responding to such complaints.

What does indemnity insurance cover?

If a patient is unhappy with your care, they may initiate a complaint against you, usually and initially through the office of the Health and Disability Commissioner. From there things can progress to many other jurisdictions and sometimes multiple jurisdictions. These include the Privacy Commissioner, the Human Rights Review Tribunal, the Medical Council, the Health Practitioner’s Review Tribunal and even directly to the courts. Having professional indemnity insurance ensures that legal advice is readily available, provided to you and any legal fees and compensation awarded against you are covered. These are a few of the possible jurisdictions, and clearance in one does not mean the complaint may not be heard in another.

However, this coverage is not automatic with all providers. Usually, the insurer will consider your the details of your case before giving you their support.

Unlike most other providers, which offer discretionary assistance only (meaning they can decline to offer assistance and meet costs), Medicus provides an assurance of cover and associated costs to its members through an insurance contract with secured by Aon New Zealand, and underwritten by NZI.

What about ACC?

ACC (the Accident Compensation Corporation) covers the cost of accidental injuries, including those incurred during treatment. If medical care goes wrong, they cover the cost of the patient’s additional care. However, at times ACC may make a referral of health practitioners to the Medical Council for competence review and for handling this, professional advice will certainly be required.

What other services can I expect?

Some indemnity providers, like NZ-owned Medicus, will also offer you medico-legal advice and guidance as and when issues come up.

Medicus also provides insights from doctors, surgeons and medicolegal advisors on a variety of topics that might come in handy one day. Whatever your choice will be, we suggest students to carefully consider which professional indemnity insurance and medico-legal advice provider they choose, as not all cover is equal. With Medicus you can rely on assured professional insurance and leading medico-legal advice, offering superior protection across multiple jurisdictions.


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