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Vero cuts midwives’ insurance scheme

Vero has withdrawn its professional indemnity (PI) cover for private practice midwives after concluding the product is no longer viable.

Australian College of Midwives (ACM) spokesman Hannah Dahlen told insuranceNEWS.com.au about 60 midwives will be affected.

“It’s a big blow,” she said.

Medicare-eligible midwives can join the Commonwealth-subsidised Midwifery Practice Insurance Scheme, provided by Medical Insurance Group Australia (MIGA).

For those not able or willing to meet the eligibility requirements, the Vero product was their only option.

Vero says it made the “difficult decision” because it is impossible to maintain a sustainable program.

“The premiums required to cover the professional indemnity insurance risks… are much higher than private practice midwives can afford,” a spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

The insurer says “substantial government subsidisation and oversight” is required.

“Vero would welcome any government interest in continuing this program, and would gladly be involved in future discussions.”

Underwriting new customers has ceased with immediate effect, but renewals will be offered to current customers until July 1.

Private midwives’ insurance is hugely complex – particularly in relation to home births.

Since 2010 all regulated health professionals have been required to hold PI cover to practise.

But neither the MIGA nor Vero schemes cover birth in a home setting – just antenatal and postnatal care.

The Government therefore created an exemption from PI requirements for private midwives giving services for home births. The exemption was extended until the end of next year, allowing midwives to continue practising but leaving them unprotected.

Professor Dahlen says the ACM is seeking solutions to the current “abhorrent” situation.

It is working with Queensland Health to develop a safety and quality framework for private midwives that will increase confidence and make PI insurance viable.

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