Do Nutritionists Need Insurance?
Being a nutritionist has become a popular career path and, like all healthcare business professionals, is one where the well-being of others is the main priority. Yet, in today’s litigious environment, it doesn’t always seem like the financial well-being of nutritionists is taken into account.
The thing is, insurance for nutritionists, both as an individual or as a business owner, is essential for protecting your practice so you can serve clients as long as possible. Yet, with all the technical jargon that comes with insurance, it can be hard to understand your insurance policy inside and out.
That’s why this guide is here.
Having your own insurance as an employee is highly advisable, and having insurance coverage as a nutritionist, or as a business owner with other nutritionists as employees, is a necessity. So let’s get you up to speed on what that entails.
Insurance for Nutritionists Exists for a Reason
Adjusting people’s diets, giving lifestyle advice to clients, selling products, and running a business are all very high-risk activities that just so happen to be part of the job description for nutritionists. You can (and will be) held accountable by your clients if they have an adverse reaction to something you told them to do. By having insurance, you will have the means to respond more so than if you were paying out of pocket.
Other times, clients just seek reparations for honest accidents. It’s a pessimistic view, of course.
Having insurance for your private practice, and individual insurance even if your employer offers some level of coverage, is an incredibly worthwhile decision.
The Rise of Nutrition Careers
In recent years, society as a whole has grown increasingly health-conscious. Schools, corporations, and individuals have begun caring about healthy eating, from what food we should eat to where that food comes from. People are also understanding that food plays a huge role in preventing and treating health conditions.
All of these factors make sense when considering this fact from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
“Employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.”
More Business Means More Risks
Increasing clientele comes with increasing risks. As a nutritionist, you are susceptible to malpractice claims that can have a devastating effect on your career and financial situation, even if you did nothing wrong. What you can control, however, is putting protective measures in place to safeguard your livelihood.
There’s a “minimum harm” in that a lawsuit cannot exist without damages, the only exception being negligence suits.
What if My Employer Has Insurance?
If you are employed as a nutritionist within someone else’s business, you may not worry as much about the legal claims the business may face—but you should. Here are some factors to consider before deciding against individual liability coverage:
- Policy limits – Your employer’s policy limits may not be high enough to have significant coverage for every employee named in a lawsuit, leaving you financially responsible for legal fees or indemnity payments should the plaintiff win.
- Type of employment – If you’re a part-time worker, do volunteer work, are an independent contractor, or practice anywhere outside of the workplace, you may not have coverage.
- Personal claims – The amount your employer’s plan covers is most likely not enough to protect you from the financial losses of a personal claim.
Types of Insurance for Nutritionists
The main types of insurance for all nutritionists are general liability, professional liability, and cyber security insurance. For nutritionists who are also running a business with office space and employees, it’s important to seek two additional policies: general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
Regardless of if specific policies aren’t required by law, in the long run, the cost of coverage is much cheaper than the fees you would be met with while uninsured and facing a lawsuit or employee payout.
Professional Liability Insurance
The most critical coverage to have as a business owner or self-employed nutritionist is professional liability insurance. Any time you give advice to a client, there is a possibility that they could later claim to have been harmed by your recommendations or perceived oversights. Professional liability insurance will protect you from claims of malpractice as a nutritionist that results in a client’s financial loss, as well as claims resulting in bodily injury, disability, etc.
In the face of a lawsuit, this policy can cover your legal expenses, including the potential cost of settlements and awards, defense costs up to your policy limit. Business owner or not, professional liability insurance for nutritionists is a major saving grace. It’s incredibly important to purchase professional liability insurance so you feel secure in your nutrition practice.
General Liability Insurance
You may not be required by law to have it, but running a business without it, no matter how big or small, is a huge gamble.
Here are some of the risks general liability covers:
- On-property bodily injury or harm to third parties
- Personal and advertising injury
- Damage to third-party property
- Medical expenses
- Legal defense costs
Cyber Liability Insurance
In an increasingly digital world, having cyber protection is a good idea in every business, especially healthcare businesses where the client and patient information can be sensitive and should remain private.
Cyber liability insurance for nutritionists may cover expenses related to the following:
- Legal fees in a data breach lawsuit
- Software attacks
- Notifying clients about breaches and cyberattacks
- Fraud monitoring services
- Cyber extortion
Product Liability Insurance
Dietary supplements, herbal remedies, and other products you sell to your clients are never meant to cause harm, but products interact with people in different, unpredictable ways. If a product happens to cause a client harm, depending on the severity, the client may decide to take legal action.
Product liability insurance for nutritionists will cover legal expenses and the potential cost of a settlement. This policy’s coverage typically extends beyond sales made in your office, offering nationwide or even worldwide coverage, so your sales at places like nutrition trade shows and conferences are also covered.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Unlike general liability coverage, workers’ compensation insurance plans are required by law in almost every state in the US. In the off-chance that your business is exempt based on your state’s regulations, you should still have it anyway—there’s a reason it’s required in almost all businesses nationwide.
Workers’ compensation insurance for nutritionists is beneficial for its coverage of the following:
- Immediate medical costs for work-related injuries, such as an ambulance ride
- Ongoing medical costs, such as prescription medication
- Lost wages while the employee is unable to work
It’s also a great way to show your appreciation for the employees who work for you. You have them in mind when it comes to insurance.
Prioritize Longevity with Nutritionist Insurance
Having your own individual coverage, even if your employer has coverage, is the safest bet in terms of insurance for nutritionists. And if you are the employer as well, it’s that much more important to make sure you have these protective measures in place. It isn’t worth the unnecessary risk of starting your practice without insurance when you have the ability to ensure its longevity.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Dietitians and Nutritionists. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm
- CPH & Associates. Malpractice Insurance for Individual Providers. https://www.cphins.com/nutritionist/
- NutritionED. Distinguishing Between Dietitian vs Nutritionist. https://www.nutritioned.org/dietitian-vs-nutritionist.html
- TRUiC. Business Insurance for Nutritionists. https://howtostartanllc.com/business-insurance/business-insurance-for-nutritionists