Briefing paper: insurance for needle exchanges

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Insurance has become a major issue for needle exchanges. Kerry Thompson, head of services at Exeter Drugs Project has written a briefing paper based on their experiences.

Please note that this document is now quite old and may contain some information that is out of date, the NNEF strongly suggests only using this as a guide. Please get professional advice before finalising insurance for your service.

Briefing paper: insurance for needle exchanges Insurance Feedback Paper – (Nov 2004) Update Feb 06. Kerry Thompson – Head of Office Services (Exeter Drugs Project)

Below is a summary of contacts, our findings and information following our insurance renewal process. I hope this is helpful to you, do not hesitate to contact me on 01392 666734 if I can be of any support.

DrugScope and the Charity Commission provide some information about insurance on their websites.

Insurance Brokers W. Denis are recommended by the following organisations:

  • DrugScope
  • Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals
  • Scottish Drugs Forum
  • National Treatment Agency
  • European Council for Treatment of Addictions. We have used them for our renewal this year. Mark Dutton can be contacted on 0113 243 7209.

Others contacts kindly passed on were:

  • Insurance Broker Adams Tingle – Tel: 0870 366 1350
  • Higos Insurance Services – Tony Dufort – Tel: 0870 849 4999

Establish your cover requirements & identify any differences between covers e.g. for Professional Indemnity, Professional Liability, Medical Malpractice cover… Consider matching your indemnity/liability limits for each policy e.g. £5,000,000.

Be prepared to provide a lot of information. This will allow the brokers/underwriters to cover activities fully and appropriately, categorise and apportion risk more accurately and provide a more acceptable premium. The level of detail, breakdown and costs included:

  • Number and risk categories (in the context of exposure e.g. per week) of needle exchange workers.
  • Funding and expenditures for needle exchange.
  • Complementary therapies, who provides them, funding received and expenditures per therapy.
  • Number of service users seen for various interventions.
  • Income percentages split between different activities/interventions.
  • Staff qualifications and/or experience.
  • Employee, volunteer, placements and/or self employed cover requirements (if not then evidence of certifications will be required).
  • Membership of professional bodies and organisations.
  • Policies, procedures and protocols e.g. Needle stick injury, Complaints.
  • Percentage split of service users by age groups.
  • Previous insurance history, including indemnity limits, special extensions/exclusions.
  • Changes in business activities and material facts e.g. changing premises, increased business risk.
  • Qualifications and experience of Senior Management and/or Directors/Chief Executive.

Note the context of your indemnity cover e.g. financial loss or malpractice. It may not be obvious from the application, and you may require both.

Note exclusions, they can make your policy worthless. For example, in malpractice terms bodily injury in some policies includes mental anguish and emotional distress that may not adequately cover any form of counselling techniques that may be used.

Check HIV or Hepatitis exclusions.

Special extensions may be required e.g. breach of confidentiality that can be added for an additional premium.

Some “charitable” covers provide Trustee Indemnity as part of the package, remember that Charity Commission approval is required.

Expect your premium to jump, our quotes ranged from £7,300 to £10,500 + Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) at 5%. (Nov 04.)

Check if it is a claims made policy.

Try to get cover together as it is not good practice to split cover between different policies. The policies in place should support each other.

Find out why your policy can no longer be renewed. It may not just be risk.

Make reference to any schemes in which you participate e.g. EnCAMS.

Think about other people you may not instantly consider for cover e.g. cleaners.

Provide your broker with as much information as possible. It will ensure they understand your needs and can manage your insurance portfolio to guarantee your cover in every respect.

This process takes a long time. So if your renewal is due soon, start this now!

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