Civil Liability insurance
The special case of Plastic Surgeons
Just like their colleagues in other types of surgery, plastic surgeons need a trusted partner that will take of the risks associated with their work. In particular, we can consider any type of medical error that could lead to disabling consequences. Therefore, civil liability insurance makes sense to protect the surgeon’s interests and holdings.
However, some specifics must be taken into account as part of the business conducted by the plastic surgeon. Effectively, patients’ expectations are usually not related to the resolution of a medical or functional problem. This expectation centres on their aesthetics: an aspect that is clearly subjective and difficult to measure or evaluate using universal criteria. As a result, the relationship and dialogue between the surgeon and patient are crucial to define the expected outcome and risks together.
Of course, it is the surgeon's responsibility to remind his or her patients of the risks of surgery, and warn them against an expectation of results that may be unrealistic. The surgeon must obtain the patient’s "informed consent" before planning any surgery.
In cases where the claims against the surgeon are high, the insurer must be capable of processing them in partnership with the client. To the extent that a medical error has been determined, this must be recognised and compensated for. However, in the event of unjustified claims, the insurer will dismiss them by defending the interests of its client and working toward preserving its client’s reputation.
Number of operations in Switzerland per year
Number of persons receiving operations every working day
Proportion of women among the people receiving operations
Switzerland is 60% more expensive than its neighbouring countries
Insurers lack perspective
In this sense, it is useful to recall that there is a two-step approach to civil liability insurance: first, the payment of justified claims (both in terms of the liability as well as the rate of damage) and second, the defence against unjustified claims. In addition to the civil aspects, the insurer will also defend its client in the event of criminal proceedings in connection with an insured event.
In recent years, in a market where risk bearing has become increasingly individualised, plastic surgeons have faced many difficulties in obtaining satisfactory insurance terms. Indeed, insurers have no problem terminating a contract after the first claim, or drastically raising rates.
There are fewer than 200 plastic surgeons in Switzerland and their affiliation among various insurance companies does not allow these companies to gain a sufficient perspective on the overall loss ratio of these specialists. In fact, cases of claims remain marginal among the 45,000 plastic and cosmetic surgery operations performed annually in Switzerland. It is essential for plastic surgeons to carry out their practice knowing that they have a reliable partner to count on in the very rare event that a claim is filed against them.
"We have convinced Zurich Insurance to expand its focus"
Recommendation from Cedric Béguelin, Client Manager at Swiss Risk & Care
"Swiss Risk & Care has been able to establish civil liability insurance cover to benefit plastic surgeons whose partner made the decision to divest from the risk to be insured.
Having identified all the needs of plastic surgeons, we have created an ambitious set of specifications and have submitted it to the partners that we felt would be able to respond to it. Most insurers refuse to take on the risk of civil liability insurance coverage for plastic surgeons. However, Swiss Risk & Care has sought to conduct a detailed analysis of the risks and the progression over time of loss rates in this profession. On this basis, Zurich Insurance showed interest in working with Swiss Risk & Care.
After several work sessions, a concrete project was able to be created, and a cooperation agreement was finalised with the insurer. The agreement covers all elements of our requirements specifications, specifically in terms of cover, amounts insured, or guaranteed maintenance of premium level. In addition, our thorough review of the general base conditions enabled us to overcome a major deficiency in cover. We were able to convince Zurich Insurance to expand its area of focus by agreeing to cover surgeons’ defence costs in the case of claims for failure to obtain the expected aesthetic result.
Swiss Risk & Care then shaped the agreement by presenting it to the plastic surgeons involved. Our presence at the annual conference of the Swiss Society of Reconstructive and Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has allowed surgeons to obtain all the information required. On this occasion, plastic surgeons enthusiastically welcomed this insurance solution as it meets their needs in full."