Skip to main content
Team of medical professionals smiling

Medical Indemnity

“Although the laws of medical indemnity differ between countries, as a broad general rule, medical liability follows when a healthcare professional does not show a fair, reasonable and competent degree of skill when providing medical care to a patient”

Source – Wikipedia

Often referred to as ‘Medical Malpractice’, Medical Indemnity could occur between any healthcare practitioner and patient under their care – ranging from General Practitioners, Surgeons, to Psychiatrists and complementary therapists. In most, if not all countries – a healthcare practitioner must be indemnified (insured) in order to treat patients, in or outside of a healthcare facility, OR demonstrate financial responsibility to cover potential claims from the patients. Healthcare professionals can be indemnified through a medical defence organisation or through recognised private insurance companies and must demonstrate sufficient on-going experience within their realm of medicine.      

United Kingdom & Europe

In the UK and Europe, healthcare practitioners are members of medical defence organisations (MDOs) which provide cover for practitioners on a discretionary basis. Whilst MDOs are not insurance companies – they can provide practitioners with indemnity should things go wrong. As the cover is discretionary – the MDO will decide to ‘pick up’ the claim or reject it. Where rejected, it is the responsibility of the healthcare professional to resolve and defend the claim from their pocket.

Extract from the leading trade union, British Medical Association (BMA) on NHS medical indemnity:  

“On 1 January 1990 health authorities took over financial responsibility for negligence attributable to medical and dental staff of the hospital and community health services. The arrangements, which have since been extended to NHS trusts, apply throughout the UK.

As a result, it should no longer be a contractual requirement for NHS employed doctors to hold indemnity insurance, i.e. membership of a defence society, for work undertaken as part of their employment contract.

However, the requirement that all doctors hold adequate and appropriate indemnity cover is a responsibility enshrined in the GMC's 'Good medical practice', and as of 16 July 2014 this became a legal requirement under the Health Care and Associated Professions (Indemnity Arrangements) Order 2014.

Therefore it is vital that doctors understand what their contracted NHS duties are, and arrange separate indemnity cover for any work they do outside the scope of the employing authority or trust indemnity scheme.

Both the BMA and the health departments advise all doctors employed by the NHS to retain defence body membership or take out other personal indemnity insurance. They should also ensure that the cover they opt for is adequate for the activities they undertake.

BMA Logo


General Madical Council Logo

For further information on medical malpractice cover in the United Kingdom, please see direct link to the General Medical Council’s website:

Rest of World

Medical Indemnity varies from each country and jurisdiction. However, as emphasised earlier - most, if not all countries request that healthcare practitioners have some form of cover (insurance) in place, either from trade unions, associations, private insurers or are ‘self-insuring’ (covering the cost of any potentially claim themselves). Most countries globally have their own medical associations and trade bodies to protect the interest of healthcare professionals. Many insurers, associations and trade bodies choose to (re)insure the risks back to Lloyd’s of London, given the specialist and high risk nature of healthcare.

Global Coverage

As we continue to evolve and innovate, the trend of healthcare practitioners treating patients cross-borders has increased by 38% since 1999. For example, as a specialist practitioner, you may live and reside in Germany, but treat patients in the USA or other parts of the world. In such instances, you could be subject to the law of where the patient resides. Therefore, it is essential that you have appropriate insurance in place to cover you for USA based patients, if even if you are based in Germany for example.  If in doubt, please contact us for a complimentary review of your existing insurances.