Our claims department see a number of reoccurring themes when it comes to claims. With experience and the benefit of hindsight, we share some top tips on how you can mitigate some common risks in your practice.
Top Insurance claims and how to avoid them
The top three occurring incidents (perils) against which claims were made for MIAB clients, during 2021 were: accidental damage or loss, followed by water damage and finally, slips, trips and falls. These were closely followed by Cyber claims.
Whilst no one has a crystal ball to foresee future accidental loss or damage, there are steps that practices can take to help to mitigate risk. Bear in mind that seasonality will also impact on risks likely to be encountered.
Summer weather- subsidence and storms
There is an increased risk of subsidence if the weather is hot and dry for extended periods of time, as it can then cause the ground to move. Check that your practice is correctly covered for subsidence.
Climate change has also resulted in a higher frequency of storms and extreme weather conditions. Insurance losses for Storm Eunice alone (February 2022) are predicted to be around £200-£350 million. When insurers are unable to predict future risks, reinsurance terms are harder to negotiate, meaning an increase in premiums for property owners, as these costs are passed on.
Building maintenance is key
As with healthcare, prevention is better than cure and often risks are only recognised after an adverse incident or ‘near miss’ has occurred.
Some ways in which you can help to mitigate future claims are:
- Clear your gutters at least twice a year. Check again after any period of heavy rainfall.
- Inspect your roof for any loose tiles or other damage.
- Prune shrubs and trees to reduce to risk of debris.
- Remove creeping plants on the outside of the building
As the summer temperatures rise, your fridges are in overdrive working hard, using more energy to keep the temperatures down. Aim to keep the room temperature below 30°C where possible. Temperatures above this can lead to your refrigerator using too much energy. Don’t over stock them as air needs to circulate and make sure you get them serviced regularly.
It is good practice to monitor the temperature of the fridge and record it on a log. If a claim arises, the insurer may request to see a copy of this and a maintenance report, to confirm the reason behind the loss of vaccines. Loss of vaccines can cost a practice an average of £1,030 (MIABs data).
Slips and trips
Slips and trips are one of the most common causes of major workplace injuries. Slip and trip accidents cost employers over £500m per year and society over £800m per year, with 29% of non-fatal injuries to employees involving slips, trips or falls during 2019/2021
To tackle the impact of these hazards, you should implement a risk assessment, risk control and risk profiling strategy. From these steps create a plan and allocate appropriate time and resource to implement it.
Key areas to consider:
- Potential hotspots, such as stairs, steps, slopes, flooring
- Car parks and footpaths
- Areas where there are regular floor contamination risks
- Poor lighting
- Uneven or badly maintained or damaged surfaces
- Inappropriate footwear
- Trailing pipes and cables
- Poor maintenance and house keeping
- Vulnerable users
A risk assessment helps you understand what sensible precautions are required to control the hazards in your workplace, for example:
- Specifying appropriate stair/step design for the environment, usage and footfall
- Implementing an effective cleaning regime and inspection system
- Having procedures for attending to spillages and contamination
- Implementing procedures for inclement weather
- Setting lighting and visibility standards
Eliminate trip hazards where possible
- Remove all obstacles in pedestrian walkways where possible
- Fix defects from machinery or buildings which may cause a trip hazard
- Repair pot-holes in car parks or on footpaths
- Design tasks to minimise the need for carrying objects using both hands up or down stairs/steps
- Plan pedestrian and vehicle routes to minimise trip hazards
- Use cordless tools where practicable to eliminate trailing cables
Slips and Trips– hazard spotting check list
What to do if an incident happens
When an accident occurs at the practice (or on the premises), involving either a member of the public or an employee, you must ensure this is recorded in the usual way, in line with government Health & Safety guidelines (e.g., accident report).
You must then notify any incident, no matter how minor it may seem, to your insurer as soon as possible. It is important that you do not admit liability for the matter (whether or not you feel responsible.) This includes offering free treatment or a discount by way of apology for example, as this could prejudice the Insurers position in any defence.
Your insurer will also ask you to take any witness statements and retain any CCTV covering the accident immediately, if available.
Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, liability claims are on the rise as the general public become more cash strapped. Everyone is trying their luck with nothing to lose. The best thing the Practices can do is review their health and safety procedures, ensure they have regular risk assessments of the premises and call us if in any doubt on how to handle a matter. This will minimise the likelihood of an accident occurring, and if one does, strengthen the insurers position in any defence.
This could be due to an escape of water, such as from a burst pipe, a flood , or water ingress, say from a leaky roof.
Escape of Water
In 2021, we paid an average of £6,290 per claim for EOW. Prevention and detection should be a priority – contributing factors include:
- Inadequate installation of fittings
- Bad component design or materials
- Defective manufacture or production
- Pressure fluctuations and water hammer
- Physical or mechanical damage
- Temperature fluctuations
- Blocked outlet pipes
Common types of leak can be prevented by the following:
- Ensure pipes connected to major appliances are secured properly
- Regularly check overflows on toilets, sinks, baths and tanks
- Regularly inspect and maintain sealing around baths, showers and sinks
- Turn off water supply at night if possible, and especially if the property is to be unoccupied for a long period of time
New types of technology can also alert clients on whether a leak has occurred so that they may be able to react.
With Escape of Water, it’s the interruption to your business that causes the most trouble (and expense). It’s a good idea to scope out local surgeries or premises where you could temporarily trade/see patients on an emergency basis and keep these details as part of your business continuity plan. The policy covers reasonable increased cost of working in conjunction with an insured event, so this could ultimately help to retain patients and reduce the overall claims cost.
Unfortunately, cybercrime is growing and becoming more complex and more severe, resulting in a higher number of claims than ever before. As a result of this significant increase in claims and heavy losses incurred by insurers, they have significantly raised the bar on the security standards required to get cover. Failure to comply with these new requirements can lead to increases in premiums, reduced coverage or no cover being offered. That is why you need to talk to the experts to ensure you get optimum cover.
2021 was the worst year on record for cybersecurity and hospitals, pharmacies and GP surgeries are prime targets since personal and private data is valuable for criminal groups. Plus, inadequate investment in security technology and being under great pressure from unprecedented challenges, makes them easy targets.
Medical suppliers continue to be targeted. By using third party organisations cyber criminals can gain unauthorised access to healthcare systems, circumventing internal protections. 60% of healthcare data breaches in the USA in 2021 were reportedly caused by third-party vendors. In the UK, during 2021 of the 39% of UK businesses who identified an attack, the most common threat vector was phishing attempts (83%)2.
You need to check that your backups are secure and cannot be overwritten. The number one entry point, is the human machine interface with more than 85% of attacks starting with the human factor2. This is because employees can succumb to emotional manipulation and social engineering, no matter what systems are in place.
Do you operate a multi-factor authentication process? Are you fully covered for reinstatement of all equipment, forensic investigation and any legal actions required?
Read more about our cyber security advice here