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Review practice insurance at least every two years

The insurance market is so diverse that virtually any type of cover can be bought – at a price. Neurotic GPs could reduce profit levels considerably by overinsuring if they so chose.

Those who never consider changing insurers can meet a similar fate as premiums rise to take advantage of their inertia.

It is therefore worthwhile

reviewing practice insurance needs at least every two years.

Insurers have a clever trick of sending out renewal notices very close to expiry dates – the idea being that we then have less time to shop around and may even not bother to try. If you are smart you will review all practice insurances together, well in advance of any renewals.

Buildings and contents cover

Try to get several quotes, using up-to-date valuations for contents and buildings. Buildings cover should match the current rebuilding cost rather than the usually higher total value of the property. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has a useful online calculator. Alternatively ask your valuer, if you have one. Check subsidence cover is included in any new policy. Damage caused by terrorism is now only included at extra cost: decide if you want this.

Remember to exclude the value of surgery contents that are not yours, such as computer hardware belonging to the PCT. Also make sure your contents cover is for replacement value, not current value. Check the excess – this can vary enormously.

Look for added extras such as free Inland Revenue investigation cover. GP specialist brokers often provide this.

Finally, read policies carefully to ensure like-for-like cover.

Employers' indemnity insurance

This is essential for any employer and is not to be skimped on. Once again, get quotes from GP specialist brokers to ensure cover is tailored appropriately.

It is now also possible to get protection for employers' tribunal costs and awards, including solicitors' fees. It's worth getting a quote for this cover as the time, stress and cost of an employee claim can be high.

Locum cover

It may be difficult to decide whether your practice should have locum cover. Certainly the cost of providing locums to

cover partner ill-health absence is now huge (around £9,000 per month) but generally GPs take less time off work through sickness than most people.

Take a look at your practice's sickness track record, and also the age/sex mix as older and

female GPs have a statistically greater chance of being off sick.

PCT locum reimbursement will only be considered if your list sizes per partner are relatively high and few practices would currently qualify. Ask your PCT if you want clarity.

Policies vary in cost, with those having a longer deferred period being cheaper. You may also consider covering only a proportion of locum costs to

reduce premiums. You lose nothing by getting some quotes and considering options.

Clinical cover

Never pay separately for practice nurse, healthcare assistant or practice manager medical

indemnity cover. Most GP defence bodies offer free cover, provided two or more GPs are insured with them. Make full use of this option.

John Couch is a GP in Ashford,

Middlesex

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