Specsavers has partnered with AON to develop a Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance policy to specifically cover its members.
Peter Larsen, Professional Affairs Manager for Specsavers said the policy was developed in response to increasing requests from Specsavers members.
“Over the years store partners have regularly asked us to provide an alternative to Optometrists Association Australia (OAA) insurance – they want to have a choice. As each year has gone by, more partners have asked the question. So, this year we went out into the market and AON put forward a PI insurance policy to cover any optometrist who works for Specsavers,” said Mr. Larsen.
Over the years store partners have regularly asked us to provide an alternative to Optometrists Association Australia (OAA) insurance…
OAA has held a master insurance policy with Avant for over 10 years that provides premium protection for members. Genevieve Quilty, National Chief Executive Officer of the OAA told mivision that OAA works on the policy every year with Avant to further improve it for the members’ benefit.
“We are proud of the PI insurance policy we have developed – it is OBA compliant, it works and provides significant peace of mind for members. It is designed with individual optometrist’s needs in mind and has an unlimited generous run off cover and temporary absence from practice cover at no extra cost.”
Ms. Quilty said individual practitioner policies tend not to include these features as standard, which means when an optometrist retires or is absent from their practice, they have to purchase these covers separately.
“Under the OAA policy an optometrist can work with any employer, and they have coverage for volunteer and community work; as well as being covered if they take a career break of up to three years without having this effect their PII. Alternative policies do not appear to offer these features and may mean an optometrist may require multiple PII policies,” said Ms. Quilty.
No Impact on Independents
Mr. Larsen said he does not expect the move by Specsavers to an alternative insurance provider will impact the premiums currently paid by OAA members. “I would have thought the small numbers of optometrists involved is unlikely to have a major impact on the OAA’s PII package,” he said.
“In OAA’s view, professional indemnity premium calculations are complex as often claims arise many years later. The major issues in pricing are related to the risk associated with those health practitioners covered under the policy and not just the raw numbers covered,” said Ms. Quilty.
OAA’s annual membership fee includes PI insurance. This means some Specsavers members may choose to withdraw from the Association rather than effectively paying two insurance premiums. According to Mr. Larsen, whether or not they maintain their OAA membership “is very much a choice for individual partners and individual optometrists”.
Ms. Quilty said at this time OAA does not plan to offer a membership package that excludes PI insurance.
“The Association purchases a whole Association insurance policy as a core service for all members and while there are alternative policies available on the market, they are individual policies.
“Our insurance policy for members is integrated within the whole suite of services we provide to them. We offer products and personalised advice, independent employment related advice, career advice, clinical advice and high quality professional development through our OAA State Division CPD activities. These are provided to all members in a confidential manner. We believe this level of independent service and advice cannot be replicated by employers,” said Ms. Quilty.
She said optometrists find the services provided by OAA invaluable. “During the last registration period we directly assisted over 90 per cent of members audited by the OBA and continue to provide confidential advice in relation to disciplinary, Medicare and employment matters. Non-members cannot access this advice.”
Ms. Quilty continued, “Vitally, the OAA exists to support the profession of optometry as a whole and to grow it to continue to be a satisfying profession, allowing optometrists to meet the eye health and vision care needs of their patients and the Australian community.
“OAA is well respected by government and decision makers nation-wide and we work as a positive force to enhance, promote and highlight the work of optometrists all around Australia.”