New policy revolutionises medical malpractice cover

Pierre Bekker, CEO of Safire Insurance Company, and Michael-John Damant, director of Genoa Underwriting Managers

Medical malpractice claims are increasing. Doctors and specialists are facing exorbitant medical protection insurance premiums and healthcare costs are rising, putting good private healthcare out of reach of many patients and jeopardising many medical practices.

Genoa Underwriting Managers and underwriter Safire Insurance Company have responded with an innovative new product which has been carefully engineered to meet the challenges faced by South Africa ‘s private healthcare sector while helping to shield patients and medical aids from rocketing medical inflation. Michael-John Damant, a director of Genoa, said the new offering ‒ which had taken 14 months to formulate to keep pace with the many challenges within this rapidly evolving local sector ‒ is reinsured by Munich Re, one of the world’s largest and well-respected underwriters. 

Up until now, 85% of South African medical practitioners have been insured by an offshore service provider, not only exposing them to punitive premiums due to the volatility of the local currency, but also offering no protection from the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act and the South African Ombudsman of Short-term Insurance (OSTI).

The reasons for the sudden upswing in claims are complex and include patients’ increased awareness of their right to seek recompense and greater pressure from some legal practitioners who are eager to capitalise on this. Amendments to legislation governing the Road Accident Fund (RAF) have made damage claims from injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents less profitable to personal injury lawyers. Some of these lawyers have now turned their attention to medical malpractice claims.

Since 2011, claims against healthcare professionals in South Africa rose by 35% and the value of the claims increased by 121%*. According to the Medical Protection Society SA, claims over R1 million increased by nearly 550% in just 10 years while claims above R5 million grew by 900% between 2008 and 2013.

“An analysis of the market shows that medical claims are not only rising sharply, but that doctors are increasingly becoming the targets of vexatious litigation. This has a direct correlation with the higher premiums charged every year. We are committed to making a positive contribution to the long-term sustainability of the medical sector in South Africa and are happy to be able to offer a claims-made insurance policy with stable, sustainable premiums,” says Damant.

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