By Lynda Cox
One of the biggest annual costs that GP practices incur is their locum insurance premium.
As a large cost, it’s something which the practice or business manager needs to keep an eye on, in case it gets out of hand. Cost control is an integral part of your role and as with all forms of insurance, it’s often relatively easy to negotiate lower costs.
How to reduce your costs
Insurers now expect a dialogue with their clients. It’s a good way for them to check they’re delivering the clients’ needs and it can reinforce the client/supplier relationship to mutual advantage.
With most forms of insurance, the first step in the price negotiation is to ask your current provider to strip out benefits or get quotes from alternative suppliers and ask your current provider to match them.
We are encouraged to do this sort of thing by car and household insurers all the time and, when you look closely, you can find you’re paying for cover that you don’t need or that you’ve already got somewhere else. Car breakdown is a case in point: car insurance policies often cover this but, if you’ve got AA membership, you could well be simply doubling up on cover.
Like for like
When you’re comparing one insurance policy against another it makes life easier if you can do this on a like for like basis. That’s why price comparison websites have a handy ‘tick box’ display so you can scan down and see where the ticks and the gaps are and can assess whether the gaps would be problematical for you and your specific circumstances.
Unfortunately, there is nowhere you can go to for a locum insurance comparison like this so you’ll need to do your own, to make sure you’re not moving from one provider to another and either losing some cover you really need to keep.
When you’re than deciding to save a few pounds by removing the windscreen cover from your car insurance policy the worst outcome is that your windscreen will shatter and you’ll have to pay for a replacement.
Locum insurance can be complex and the ramifications of stripping out benefits you ‘don’t need’ or of moving to a new provider can be costly in the long term so there are a few points to look out for before you make that move.
1. If we move to a new provider, will our cover be restricted if the health of any of the insured doctors worsens even though this doesn’t result in time off work?
2. If we move to a new provider, will our cover be restricted if one of the doctors needs to claim?
3. Has a new provider ever been in the position of telling existing clients they would have to be re-underwritten?
4. Has a new provider increased its premium rates in the past, say, 5 years? If so, by how much?
5. If we make a claim, will a new provider increase our premium? If so, by how much?
6. If we move to a new provider, can we strip out – and avoid paying for – maternity benefits, suspension cover and other features our doctors don’t want?
7. If we move to A new provider, do we have to get locum invoices to support a claim?
Is it solely down to cost?
Once you’ve done your research and you’ve got answers from a range of potential providers you’ll have pinned down the features you feel are sacrosanct for your practice.
You might think that you want:
- insurance from a provider that offers, for example, ‘continuity of cover’ and has a track record of never having had to re-underwrite existing clients or withdraw their cover or
- insurance against illness and accident only
- insurance that doesn’t force you to bring in a locum.
Having done your homework, you’re in a better position to begin your negotiation on a like for like basis. You can ensure you know what ‘tick boxes’ are important for you and can avoid the pitfalls associated with focussing entirely on price.
Lynda Cox, Director of Practice Cover
The views presented in this blog are solely those of the author on behalf of Practice Cover Limited and they do not constitute individual advice.
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