It depends on how much money you have put in a ‘rainy day account’. If a partner were incapacitated for eight weeks and the practice were paying from day one, the cost to the practice, assuming a locum cost of £2,000 per week, would be £16,000. However, if the practice agreement said that in the first four weeks of incapacity the practice would pay for a locum, the cost would be £8,000 plus the cost of a locum insurance policy of let’s say £1,200. Grand total = £9,200 – a saving of more than £8,800.

It gets even more interesting when there is more than one partner involved. Take a six-partner practice. The cost of locum insurance is, say, £1,200 x 6 = £7,200, plus the four weeks paid by the practice (£8,000), giving a total of £15,200. The saving has reduced to only £800.

However, with the six-partner practice, the chance of a person being incapacitated has increased six-fold. Now let’s assume that two partners are incapacitated at the same time for the same period. The total cost to the practice without locum insurance is £2,000 x 8 x 2 = £32,000; with locum insurance, it is £1,200 x 6 (£7,200) plus the four weeks paid by the practice for two locums (£16,000) = £23,200, a saving of £8,800. As soon as the incapacity lasts for more than eight weeks, the costs without locum insurance start spiralling.

For a very short illness you can probably make a case for a ‘rainy day account’, but locum insurance can save you a lot of money. Don’t forget that locum insurance covers incapacity due to accident. Some may say, “I have haven’t been ill and my health is good.” But are you also as lucky?