First Aid & The Law Part 4:  Insurance

A common question we receive is whether an individual should have some form of insurance to protect oneself from a claim for damages following the treatment of a casualty?  

In the unlikely event that a claim is made against you it is unlikely to be successful due to all of the reasons stated in the previous articles 1 and 2.  That said the legal costs of defending a claim can be significant but such is the rarity of such claims, insurance is not usually worth considering simply because you have attended a First Aid course.

If, however, you are providing First Aid or Medical assistance to an individual as part of a paid role (which does not include nominated First Aiders in the workplace) it is wise to consider insurance:  When you provide First Aid or Medical assistance in a paid capacity you are assuming a higher duty of care; as your role warrants financial reward for your skills and experience it is assumed your skills and experience - and therefore duty of care - are greater than those of a bystander.

In reality it is usually companies who are sued rather than individuals so if you are working for an company providing First Aid or medical assistance, your employer should have insurance in place to protect themselves from litigation - so always check.   If a company is successfully sued they may make a counter claim against you to recompense financial losses however, if you have acted responsibly and in the manner in which you have been trained, again, any claim is unlikely to be successful.

If you work independently or for several companies as a freelancer and the provision of First Aid or medical insurance is your main income, it is worth considering your own policy.  With an appropriate insurance policy in place, your insurer will defend the claim on your behalf if a claim is made against you.

 

Types of Insurance

Public Liability

Public Liability insurance is not a legal requirement although if you run a business or are a sole-trader who operates as a limited liability company it is prudent to consider this a a minimum business insurance.  Public Liability covers the costs of compensation, associated expenses and any legal costs that are incurred as a result of damage or loss but not from those relating to your professional practice; if someone fell at your premises or if you accidentally damaged their property, for example.

 

Medical Indemnity

Medical Indemnity insurance (also called Medical Malpractice or Professional Indemnity) protects individuals from claims of negligence due to accidents, errors or omissions due to your professional practice.

Such a claim may be based your professional practice may be due to performing the wrong technique, the correct technique but badly, or the provision of inappropriate treatment due to misdiagnosis.  

This level of insurance may also cover the individual for losses experienced by the claimant as a result of advice offered by the individual in a professional capacity.   This is especially important for Training Providers.

As the cost of this sort of claim can be significant, the premiums for this sort of insurance can be expensive.

 

Claims Basis

Most insurance policies operate an Occurrence basis meaning it is the policy which was in force at the time of the incident which responds to the claim.  Most Medical Indemnity insurance policies operate on a Claims Made policy, it’s the policy in force when the claim is made that responds. This is important because if someone has been injured, they’re entitled to claim against you at any point in the three years following that injury, and in some circumstances, even longer.

It is worth asking your insurer if they cover Retrospective Claims.  This ensures that if a claim is made during a period where you did not have insurance cover, they will still defend the claim.

 

Insurance Providers

For First Aiders who provide cover at Events and First Aid Trainers:

For Registered Healthcare Professionals