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Specialist insurance

Medical malpractice insurance - protecting you in the event of a clinical negligence claim and more

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FODO members can apply to join our insurance scheme to provide peace of mind in the event of a clinical negligence claim, regulatory complaints and more.

We aim to be your trusted partner in healthcare and promise we will:
  • show you the cost of your insurance so you can make an informed choice
  • help you as an individual or practice owner avoid unnecessary double cover

One major advantage of insuring with FODO is that we are a not-for-profit membership body. That means we pool risk and test the market to deliver you exceptional value, and because we do not make any profit on insurance you get the best price. That is why when in the past our insurance price reduced, we were able to pass this on to our members.  

Our model also means that members can choose to join us and add insurance later. We believe this is the fairest and most transparent way to support all our members as insurance income does not cross subsidise other work. It also helps our members see what they are paying for, allowing them to shop around for the best value.

To help you make an informed choice and learn more about:

What we offer

Our insurance meets the requirements of the Opticians Act 1989 and NHS contracts to hold appropriate medical malpractice insurance.

Our medical malpractice insurance covers you on a claims occurring basis*  

  • medical malpractice insurance indemnifying you for up to £10 million per occurence 

Our insurance also covers you for

  • product liability insurance specifically related to the provision of the eye care services you provide indemnifying you for up to £10 million any one occurrence and in the aggregate
  • regulatory defence and support on a claims made basis. 

All FODO members on the General Optical Council (GOC) register can apply to join our scheme, this includes:

  • Optometrists (including Independent Prescribers), dispensing and contact lens opticians for all the clinical work that they do within their scope of practice - for example whether you are a contact lens optician accredited for MECS or an Independent Prescriber optometrist, you are covered provided you work within your scope of practice
  • Companies registered as a body corporate with the GOC, and
  • Companies not registered with the GOC but who agree to comply with GOC standards

Cover includes the cost of legally defending the claim, claims management and compensation associated with the claim.

A claim is a request for compensation as a result of something that somebody believes has gone wrong regarding a patient's eye care. The claim should be made in writing, but it can come from the patient, family member or other representative - such as a solicitor.

A clinical negligence claim is not the same as a complaint.  Learn more about the regulatory support we offer in the event of a complaint.

With a growing number of eye care providers working in multidisciplinary teams, we also offer insurance for audiologists registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Put simply, as a FODO member, we will help you pick the cover you need and you will also get legal advice and support whenever you need it. We promise you will never feel alone or unsupported if you face a claim or complaint. We will always be straight with you and be there for you as an individual or as a company. 

We can also offer members a medical malpractice insurance quote for OMPs offering primary and community eye care, orthoptists and other eye health professionals. If you would like to discuss a bespoke policy, please contact us.

Risks and liabilities

Eye care in the UK is very safe, but even the most diligent and expert eye health providers can make mistakes. In such cases clinical negligence claims can be very expensive and that is why you should have appropriate medical malpractice insurance in place irrespective of legal requirements to do so.

When you need to have medical malpractice insurance

Eye care providers in the UK are required to have appropriate medical malpractice insurance in place so that, in the case of a clinical negligence claim, the costs of the claim and any damages can be paid. For example, having appropriate insurance in place to protect patients is a requirement for General Optical Council (GOC) registration for individual registrants and for all providers of NHS care.  

While you should take all steps necessary to minimise the risk of an adverse event, mistakes can and do happen. However, making a mistake does not necessarily amount to being liable for a claim. 

To prove a claim, the claimant must show you owed them a duty of care, that there was a breach of that duty of care and, as a result, they suffered physical, psychological harm or both, which would otherwise have been avoided.

In a practical sense this means there must be a breach of duty of care and causation. Put simply, you would have to have acted in a manner which a reasonable or responsible provider in the same discipline would not have and as a result have caused harm to the patient.

If you have been notified of a claim or you believe there is a risk of a claim, you should contact us immediately and we will support you throughout the process. As a FODO member you are never alone.

When you might not need to buy your own medical malpractice insurance

Individual optometrists and dispensing opticians do not always need their own medical malpractice insurance.

For example, in many cases your employer's insurance will provide you with the medical malpractice insurance, you, as a GOC registrant need and to indemnify your patients against harm.

Make sure you do not pay for insurance you do not need or for double cover. Read on for information to help you get the right cover for you.  

If you only work for an NHS organisation providing NHS care, you should check with your employer before taking out individual medical malpractice insurance because your employer's insurance should cover you.

NHS bodies already pay for this insurance. For example, in November 2019 every NHS hospital in England was part of NHS Resolution's Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST).

This means you might be able to save thousands of pounds over your career by not buying medical malpractice insurance that you do not need.  

If you are employed and do not carry out any locum/independent contractor work, you should check with your employer or FODO before taking out individual medical malpractice insurance. This is because you may already be covered and do not need to pay for additional, separate cover yourself.

For example, FODO offers medical malpractice insurance to practice owners which covers all their GOC registrants and the staff working under their supervision on an unnamed basis. If the only practices you work at are part of the FODO scheme, you do not need to buy separate medical malpractice insurance as a GOC registrant, because you are already covered.

So, you might be able to save thousands of pounds over your career by not buying medical malpractice insurance that you do not need.

Practice owners and vicarious liability - keeping it simple

As a practice owner you can benefit from complete peace of mind knowing that our medical malpractice insurance covers your organisation and all your GOC registered staff and people working under their supervision on an unnamed basis. We keep it that simple.

You make an annual declaration of the number of full time equivalent (FTE) GOC registrants in your business - you don't have to tell us names or who comes and goes during the year. Now that's easy!

FTE stands for full time equivalent, and that is how we price your practice membership and insurance cover. Imagine you have two GOC registrants on staff who together work five days between them. That amounts to one FTE under our policy, so you pay for one not two people. You can see the savings add up.  Apply today

We know how confusing other membership and insurance adverts can be and not everybody follows our 'keep it simple' approach.

That is why as a practice owner it is important to ensure you understand the insurance cover you are paying for, including the risk to you and your organisation in relation to complex vicarious liability clauses and other hidden costs which might mean you cannot rely on your employees' insurance.

For example, even if you are paying for your employees' insurance your organisation might not benefit from advertised run off cover and might find that if one of your optometrists leaves and you later face a clinical negligence claim, you are not covered.

We believe you deserve better. That is why at FODO we do not have complex vicarious liability clauses or other hidden costs. You join us as a provider organisation, you complete your application and, once approved, you are covered. 

Claims occurring v claims made

We want to make sure that you know the difference between claims occurring and claims made insurance policies, so you can make an informed choice about the cover that is right for you.  

Claims occurring basis

This type of insurance policy covers a claim that happened ('occurred') during the policy period. It does not matter when the actual claim is made which can be years later. The cover is provided under insurance contracts in perpetuity.

For example, if you were on our claims occurring insurance policy in 2013, you would be covered in the future in the event of a claim linked to an incident in 2013. So, if a patient you tested in 2013 made a claim against you in 2023, you would still be covered by us regardless of whether you still have our insurance in 2023.

There are many advantages to this sort of policy. For example, when you retire or stop practising, you do not have to continue paying for medical malpractice insurance, buy separate 'run-off cover' or hope it is included in your package without any complex T&Cs. 

If you are switching from a policy which operates on a 'claims made' basis to a 'claims occurring' policy you should contact us for more detailed advice. This is because your current insurer might not automatically provide you with run off cover and you might have to purchase this separately. If you do, we can provide this at very competitive prices for a one-off fee.

Claims made basis

This type of insurance covers you only for claims received ('made') during the policy period.

Using the same example as above. If a patient made a claim against you in 2023 relating to a sight test you performed in 2013, then you would need to rely on your 2023 'claims made' policy being in place for cover. Put simply, on a claims made policy, you need insurance in place whenever the claim is made.

One disadvantage of this sort of policy is that when you retire or stop practising, you will have to make sure you have appropriate 'run off cover' in place. That means you will need to make sure you are insured against events that occurred in the past after you stop practising. 

Some schemes might claim to include the cost of run off cover within your current premium, but most will charge you an extra premium when you leave the scheme. You should also be aware that schemes which claim to include run off cover as part of a claims made policy might have significant restrictions in place - e.g. they might not offer organisations run off cover even if the organisation is paying employees' premiums.That is why it is important that you know what you are paying for.

Contact us by emailing [email protected] if you have any questions about the difference between 'claims made' and 'claims occurring.

Other insurance

In addition to FODO's insurance scheme, eye care provider organisations will also need to have other more common insurance policies in place. These might include but are not limited to:

  • Buildings and contents insurance
  • Business interruption insurance
  • Employers' liability insurance - a legal requirement if you employ any staff
  • Public liability insurance

This year we will be helping members access new insurance products and services. We will do this in a transparent way. For example, we will ensure every pound saved is passed on to you directly, so we will not make any commission on any new products. That is because our goal is to help you succeed and that includes keeping your and our cost low.



*On request we can also explore a quote for medical malpractice and on a claims made basis if members wish, but this is not universally recommended because the claims occurring policy currently has greater advantages.

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