Current issues in alcohol

August 2011


Understanding insurance

The GP’s professional and ethical responsibilities

Volume 40, No.8, August 2011 Pages 631-633

Isaac Seidl

This article forms part of our ‘Paperwork’ series for 2011, providing information about a range of paperwork that general practitioners complete regularly. The aim of the series is to provide information on the purpose of the paperwork, and hints on how to complete it accurately. This will allow the GP to be more efficient and the patient to have an accurately completed piece of paperwork for the purpose required.


General practitioners will often consult with patients in situations where professional skill is required to support a decision regarding insurance.


The aim of this article is to assist doctors’ understanding of the basis of insurance and risk, in order to support their own practice in this important area.


This article provides information about insurance and the professional skills required to assist in decisions made by insurance companies (for which, commercial factors predominate), and/or by patients (in whom, social and emotional factors may be more important). A quality improvement activity is provided for those interested in making changes to their practice.

Insurance is defined as, ‘the act, system, or business of insuring property, life, the person, etc., against loss or harm arising in specified contingencies, as fire, accident, disablement, or the like, in consideration of a payment proportionate to the risk involved’.1

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