Everybody hates insurance and insurance companies. Insurance is, at best a necessary evil, and insurance companies are, by their practices, only marginally above pond scum in a lot of people’s minds.
Imagine then an insurance company who sells insurance but who have a clause in their policies saying that in the event of a claim, they reserve the right to refuse to pay!
Nothing to do with whether the claim is legitimate, or not (in fact, the more legitimate the claim, the less likely they are to pay), but just ‘cos they feel like it!
This is very akin to the situation with the Medical Defence Union. According to a recent post on the McGarr Solicitor’s blog (now deleted), the MDU’s contract with doctor’s means that:
Medical practitioner members are not contractually entitled to indemnity from the MDU; they are offered the benefit of the serious consideration of the MDU to extend an indemnity. That is, MDU will not lightly refuse an indemnity. If it does indemnify, it will behave just like an insurer, but if not, not.
Yeah, we’ll take your money and you can tell your patients you are covered to operate on them but at the first sign of trouble, you are on your own sonny.
Why would doctors in Ireland sign up to such a crappy contract? Lack of an alternative provider.
Why am I posting about this? Well, I saw a post on the McGarr Solicitor’s blog mentioning that their post on this matter had been removed after they received a letter from the solicitor’s of the MDU.
Fortunately Google cached the post (see the full text below) so we can all read it.
What amazes me is that there is so little in the post which could be considered controversial and yet the MDU decided to censor it.
No matter how strongly you might disagree with this kind of charlatanism (and subsequent censorship of it being reported), do not reproduce the text of the McGarr Solicitor’s post on your own blog. If you reproduce the blog post, you might receive a take-down notice from the solicitors of the MDU.
This would end up costing the MDU legal fees for every take down notice they sent out and I just couldn’t advise people to do that. Especially if you are based outside of Ireland or the UK – that would necessitate the hiring of expensive foreign solicitors.
If I were evil, I might say – “go ahead, reproduce the blog post, the more the merrier”, but that is not me!
The text of McGarr Solicitor’s deleted post:
QUESTION: When is an insurer not an insurer?
ANSWER: When it is the Medical Defence Union (MDU) or a copycat version of it. (See Link)
Medical practitioners are obliged (for self and patient protection) to have professional indemnity insurance.
An insurer (usually an insurance company) is an entity contractually bound to indemnify the insured in the event of a loss or claim arising within the risk insured against. Building insurance and motor insurance policies are common examples.
Professional indemnity insurance indemnifies the insured professional against claims arising from alleged negligence of the professional in the practice of the profession. Doctors, lawyers, architects or engineers all need insurance of this type.
Confusion, it might be thought, would not surround such an issue, but in the case of the Medical Defence Union, it does.
It offers membership to doctors for a year. That may or may not be renewed. ( See Link )
Medical practitioner members are not contractually entitled to indemnity from the MDU; they are offered the benefit of the serious consideration of the MDU to extend an indemnity. That is, MDU will not lightly refuse an indemnity. If it does indemnify, it will behave just like an insurer, but if not, not. (See Link)
The Irish Department of Health, on hearing of allegations of a lapse from high standards of corporate governance by MDU (the chief executive was in receipt of a higher salary than that of which the non-executive directors were aware), suggested in a letter to MDU that it might withdraw recognition of MDU as an insurer of general practitioners in the Departmentâ€™s Medical Card Scheme. Of course a body such as MDU is in the absolute control of the directors/executive and not the members, given the contingency of membership.
The Department informed the press that it had sent a copy of its letter to the financial regulators of Ireland and the UK.
The Department, as appears from the report in the Irish Times on 19th September 2006, knows the â€œindemnityâ€? offered by MDU is at the discretion of MDU.
The financial regulators have no regulatory role over an entity such as MDU.
The Department is in dispute with the MDU, as the MDU retreats from the Irish medical market. MDU will no longer â€œcoverâ€? members in Ireland; the Irish Government will become the indemnifier of the doctors. However, rather than just declining to take new members or continue membership for Irish doctors, MDU, having taken â€œmembership feesâ€? for many years has declined to indemnify some members for â€œhistorical claimsâ€?.
Which prompts the question; why is the Department of Health, even yet, treating membership of MDU as equivalent to a policy of insurance?
A doctor and his/her patient must have certainty that, in the event of a claim of negligence, given the very high legal costs in establishing the fault or otherwise of the doctor, it cannot be left in doubt that an indemnity will be forthcoming for the claim and the costs associated with it. (See Link )