A Complete Guide to Insurance for Physical Therapists

February 3, 2021 •

From relieving chronic back pain to restoring physical mobility, physical therapists provide vital services to people who need them. A wide variety of patients seek out the benefits of physical therapy: office workers who want to manage carpal tunnel syndrome, stroke survivors relearning how to walk, victims of automobile accidents, athletes with sports injuries and many others.

The demand for physical therapists is fast-growing in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 258,200 physical therapists in 2919, and that number is expected to grow up. Physical therapist positions are expected to increase by 18% between 2019-2029—a growth that is much faster than average.

Many physical therapists choose their careers because of the opportunity to have a positive impact on improving people’s quality of life. Not all patient-therapist relationships go smoothly, however, which is why physical therapists must invest in insurance to protect their careers.

What type of insurance do physical therapists need?

Physical therapists may need one or more types of insurance, depending on their specific working situation.

Professional liability insurance. This is the most common type of insurance coverage that physical therapists acquire. Often also referred to as malpractice insurance, professional liability insurance protects physical therapists in case of lawsuits brought against them by a patient who claims they received negligent services or inaccurate advice.

A patient can bring a malpractice lawsuit against a physical therapist for a number of reasons—some valid, others less so. Should you make a mistake while working as a physical therapist, this insurance will protect your career and protect you financially from having to pay costly claims. Even in cases where no mistakes were made on your part, a patient lawsuit against you can still run up your legal bills. Professional liability insurance will protect you from having to pay such bills out of pocket.

General liability insurance. If you own or manage a physical therapy clinic, consider obtaining general liability insurance in addition to professional liability insurance. General liability insurance protects you against claims of physical injury or damages—such as a patient who slips, falls, and gets injured at your clinic.

General liability is a must if you visit clients in their homes. You would be exposed to patient claims that occur on their property, such as damage to their home or belongings.

What kind of claims are brought against physical therapists?

There are many different types of claims that can be brought against physical therapists. Some of these include:

  • Failure to properly test or treat patients
  • Improper performance of manual therapy
  • Improper use of therapeutic equipment, including leaving a patient unattended on equipment
  • Improper management, such as the failure to follow doctor’s orders or to refer patients to other specialists as necessary
  • Failure to inform patients of risks
  • Failure to properly supervise or monitor patients and their progress
  • Failure to refer
  • Sexual harassment or assault
  • Poor care environment
  • Improper performance using a biophysical agent

What does insurance for physical therapists cover?

The cost of claims against physical therapists has been rising, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. Between 2010-2014, the average paid indemnity for claims against physical therapy professionals was over $90,000.

Typically, professional liability insurance covers physical therapists against losses arising from legal claims brought against them during the policy period. This means the insurance company will pay for legal fees and damages that arise due to such claims.

In addition, your insurance may also offer:

  • License protection to help you retain your physical therapy license
  • Defendant expense benefit for costs incurred to attend a trial, hearing, or proceeding while defending yourself or your practice against a lawsuit
  • Lost wages coverage
  • Defense attorney provision and deposition representation
  • Personal injury coverage if you are injured
  • Reimbursement for damages to your or your patients’ property
  • Option for portability if you change employers or clinics

How much does insurance for physical therapists cost?

The cost of insurance depends on the individual physical therapist’s circumstances as well as the level of coverage chosen. For example, a therapist’s number of years in business and claims history will have an impact on insurance rates.

The type, location, and size of the physical therapy business too affects the cost of insurance. After all, physical therapists can work in a wide variety of settings. Some choose to work independently out of their own clinics, while others practice at hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. Some physical therapists do most of their hands-on work in other people’s homes, while others find themselves in sports arenas and fitness facilities.

Of course, the company you choose to purchase your insurance from will also determine your costs. At NOW insurance, we pride ourselves in offering very competitive rates. For physical therapy assistants, our rates begin at around $4 a month or $47 a year. For physical therapists, we offer professional liability insurance starting around $9 a month or $110 a year.

NOW insurance offers simple, fast, and affordable professional liability insurance trusted by many medical professionals. Learn more about the professional and general liability insurance we offer, and get an immediate quote from our online app to get started.