The importance of insurance

The Benevolent Fund is encouraging practitioners to make sure they have the necessary insurance in place

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The Benevolent Fund is calling for optical professionals, particularly those who are self-employed, to ensure they have the required insurance in place to support them if they were unable to work for any reason.

In recent years the Benevolent Fund has seen a rise in the number of applications for support that may have been avoided if the practitioner had critical illness, income protection or life insurance in place.

Administrative secretary of the Benevolent Fund, Lynne Brown, told OT: “Generally, when you are younger, you think you are healthy and invincible and that nothing will go wrong. You don’t always take out necessary insurances or worry about serious issues that could arise. Unfortunately, if there are unforeseen circumstances, such as illness or accident, you might have a severe reduction in income and have nothing to fall back on for support.”

Ms Brown added: “In an ideal world, alongside the appropriate insurances, it is financially prudent to have sufficient savings to last for three months while you are without income because some insurance schemes don’t kick in immediately.”

The Benevolent Fund is designed to support optometrists and their dependents who find themselves in financial hardship. Backed by the AOP and the College of Optometrists, the fund can assist practitioners through times of crisis and help them recover their financial stability.

The fund is operated by 10 honorary trustees who have been appointed by the AOP and the College of Optometrists, with funds donated by both optical bodies as well as donations from individuals and via legacies.

“The Benevolent Fund is a lifeline supporting optometrists and their dependant relatives in times of crisis. It would add considerably to someone’s stresses if we were not there to help them through,” Ms Brown said.

Over the last three years, more than 50% of the optometrists who have made an application to the Benevolent Fund were of working age with a family to support, a mortgage to pay, or both.

Statistics from the AOP’s Workforce Survey show that the proportion of practitioners working as locums is on the increase, so the problem is likely to get more commonplace, the Benevolent Fund said.

For more information on the Benevolent Fund, visit its website.  

Image credit: Getty/marchmeena29

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