Government Departments and other State agencies, whose claims are delegated for management by the State Claims Agency (SCA), do not have conventional insurance cover. Instead, these State bodies operate under State indemnity, a self-insurance model whereby the State bears the financial risk associated with the costs of claims.
This approach to insurance is set out in the Public Financial Procedures (Department of Finance, 2008, C8, Section 11): ‘the general rule is that no insurance should be effected against the risk of any loss which, if it arose would fall wholly and directly on public funds. This is based on the understanding that the risks for which the Government is liable are innumerable and widely distributed, and that losses maturing in any one year are never so large as to materially disturb the financial position of the year, so that it is cheaper in the long term for the Exchequer to ‘carry its own insurance.’
Scope of State indemnity
State indemnity, as operated by the SCA, is provided to delegated State authorities and delegated healthcare enterprises, in respect of personal injury, third-party property damage and clinical negligence liabilities.
State indemnity is provided by the Minister for Finance under legislation and a State authority does not have authority to extend this indemnity to cover the risk(s) of other organisations.
Who is covered by State indemnity
- All Government departments;
- Other specified State bodies and authorities.
- All HSE facilities, public hospitals and other agencies providing clinical services;
- Non-consultant hospital doctors, nurses and other clinical staff employed by health agencies whether permanent, locum or temporary;
- Consultant hospital doctors are covered with effect from 1 February 2004 in respect of alleged clinical negligence incidents on or after that date;
- Clinical support staff in pathology and radiology services;
- Public health doctors, nurses and other community-based clinical staff in respect of clinical activities;
- Dentists providing public practice;
- Certain other ancillary healthcare providers. Participating enterprises are specified in Schedule 1, Part 1 of the National Treasury Management Agency (Delegation of Functions) Orders 2003 and 2007 (SIs No. 63 of 2003 and 628 of 2007);
- Mount Carmel Hospital, Dublin with respect to midwifery/obstetrics practices.
What is covered by State indemnity
- Activities that are directly controlled, substantially funded and are wholly run by the indemnified State body, authority or enterprise;
- Good Samaritan acts within the jurisdiction of the State;
- Representation for agencies or individual practitioners at Coronial Inquiries.
Exclusions from State indemnity
The following classes of claim are expressly excluded from the SCA’s remit under the enacting legislation:
- Applications for compensation made under the Garda Compensation Acts;
- Claims made under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme;
- Claims involving a question as to the validity of any law having regard to the provisions of the Constitution;
- Claims made in respect of infection, directly or indirectly, with Hepatitis C or the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or both, through the administration of blood or blood products or in respect of related matters;
- Claims in respect of certain torts not within the SCA’s remit.
Other insurable risks which are not covered by State indemnity are:
- State property, including buildings and contents; State-owned vehicles; personal accident insurance;
- Theft of or criminal damage to third party property;
- Accidental damage or loss to third party property; and
- Business interruption;
- Professional indemnity not involving personal injury or property damage (HSE professionals are covered in respect of clinical negligence under the Clinical Indemnity Scheme);
- Computer engineering insurance for plant and statutorily required inspections;
- Overseas travel on State business;
- Directors and officers liability, administrative negligence etc;
- Crime/fidelity guarantee insurance – embezzlement, fraud, theft, involving State authority employees and/or others;
- Other matters not coming under the remit of State indemnity as defined by the SCA.
- Representation at disciplinary proceedings or before professional regulatory bodies;
- Representation for agencies or individual practitioners at inquiries, other than Coronial Inquiries;
- Good Samaritan Acts outside the jurisdiction of the island of Ireland.