Why do Physiotherapists Need Professional Indemnity Insurance?
In the course of practising their profession, physiotherapists perform a variety of services for their clients. Typical activities that fall within their job description can include:
- helping to reduce pain and restore client mobility
- conducting one-on-one therapy sessions with clients
- encouraging those clients to talk about their feelings
- conducting group therapy sessions in a clinical setting
- conducting group sessions to train other professionals such as teachers, nurses and social workers
- networking to build and maintain a consistent client base
- evaluating and reporting on therapy outcomes.
Because physiotherapists perform so many diverse roles, they are exposed to risks on a variety of levels. Key exposures can include:
- negligence in the course of providing therapy
- failing to develop suitable programs and services
- negligence in the course of counselling a client
- incorrect treatment advice given to a client.
As health care professionals, physiotherapists have a special duty of care towards their patients. Just like doctors, they are seen as experts in their field and their patients trust that their advice and treatments are based on best practice standards.
But physiotherapists can make mistakes just like anyone else, so it’s important to be protected. Professional indemnity insurance for physiotherapists not only protects your business and personal assets, but often your reputation as well, as many PI Insurance policies cover the cost of hiring a public relations consultant to repair a reputation damaged by litigation.
What Does Professional Indemnity Insurance Cover?
One of the most important types of insurance for professionals to have is professional indemnity insurance. This is insurance that protects against claims of negligence, error or omission that could be brought against you by one of your clients.
If you provide a service or advice to a client and they suffer a loss as a result, they may bring a claim against you to recover their loss. Professional indemnity insurance protects your assets by paying your legal defence costs and any damages that might be awarded.
The kinds of claims that can be brought against professionals and which professional indemnity insurance typically protects against include:
- providing incorrect or inadequate advice
- failing to advise
- libel, defamation or slander
- loss of documents
- ignoring client instructions
- breaches of trading or consumer laws
- intellectual property infringement
- breach of confidentiality
- breach of contract
- conflict of interest.
Professional indemnity insurance will protect you and your business against the costs associated with such claims and it will not only protect you, but also your partners, directors and employees both past and present.Back to top
Tips on How to Compare Professional Indemnity Insurance for Physiotherapists
Professional indemnity insurance varies widely, so it’s important to shop around and compare policies from different insurers. Things to ask yourself when examining a policy include:
- Is it specific to my industry? (e.g. is it designed to cover physiotherapists and the unique exposures they face?)
- Does the insurer have a good industry rating and claims payment history?
- What kind of support do they provide? (e.g. will your claim be managed by a dedicated claims team?)
- Does the policy represent good value for money? (e.g. does the cost reflect the level of cover provided?)
- Does it cover you for work done in a previous practice? (e.g. does it include run-off cover?)
- Are there several reinstatements of the sum insured, in case you have more than one claim in a year?
- Does the excess need to be paid upfront towards legal costs (costs-inclusive) or can it go towards the settlement at a later date (costs-exclusive)?
- Are there any exclusions that would disadvantage you in your particular circumstances and reduce your level of cover to an unacceptable degree?
- What are the territorial limitations of the policy? (e.g. will you be covered if a claim emanates from another country?)
It’s important that you get the right professional indemnity insurance at the right price and with the right level of cover, so if you are experiencing any problems in choosing a policy, it is always advisable to seek professional advice from an insurance broker or consultant.Back to top
Public Liability Cover for Physiotherapists?
As a physiotherapist, you spend your time trying to help others overcome their injuries, but injuries that result from accidents on your business premises can come back to bite you in a big way.
Public liability insurance is vital for any business or profession that has daily dealings with the general public. It is designed to protect you from claims made by third parties for injuries or property damage that occur on your premises or as a result of your actions in the course of doing business.
More and more people are seeking damages in court for public liability claims and the size of the pay outs these days can easily be in the millions of dollars, so no business can afford to be unprotected. Fortunately, due to a competitive Australian marketplace, public liability insurance can be obtained relatively cheaply. So if you’re a practising physiotherapist and you don’t have it, it would be wise to take it out at the time of purchasing your professional indemnity insurance.Back to top
Frequently Asked Questions About Professional Indemnity Insurance
Q: I have never been accused of negligence. Why would I need professional indemnity insurance?
- A: Because you could be accused, whether it is founded or not and you would have to fund your legal costs in defending the claim out of your own pocket.
Q: What protection would PI Insurance give me?
- A: It will protect your business and your personal assets in the event of a claim and allow you to continue running your practice.
Q: How much cover do I need?
- A: It will depend on the requirements of any organisations you belong to or any legislative requirements that may apply to your industry. Ultimately however, the level of cover you choose should reflect your particular circumstances and your level of potential liability.
Q: When should I tell my insurance provider about something that I think may result in a claim?
- A: As soon as you become aware of it, otherwise your claim might be rejected because of a known circumstance.
Q: What is a known circumstance?
- A: It is a circumstance that you were aware of, or should have been aware of, where a claim could be likely, prior to a claim actually being made.
Q. What is a retroactive date?
- A: The date from which you are covered by your professional indemnity insurance policy.
Q: I provide weekend physiotherapy to an amateur football team as a volunteer. Will my employer’s PI Insurance cover this voluntary work?
- A: No. As a physiotherapist, you need PI cover whether your services are paid for or voluntary and it is unlikely that your employer’s PI Insurance would cover you outside of work.
Q: What happens if I come across an accident or injury and need to apply my physiotherapy skills? Am I at risk of litigation?
- A: No. If it is a medical emergency and you are applying first aid, this is known as a Good Samaritan act, for which you do not need PI Insurance.
Apply for Professional Indemnity Insurance for Physiotherapists
Physiotherapists are trusted health care professionals and their advice and the service they provide can have a lasting impact on their clients’ health and financial wellbeing. And with such great responsibility comes greater exposure to risk, which is why professional indemnity insurance is not only advisable for physiotherapists, but highly recommended.Back to top