Social Worker Insurance: Do I Need My Own Coverage?
Social workers are passionate and giving people, who enter this field with a genuine desire to help people. Unfortunately, social workers are as vulnerable to threats of malpractice as any other licensed healthcare provider. Choosing the right insurance provider not only protects your career but your financial future as well, and allows you to work with the peace of mind. Remember: it only takes one lawsuit to jeopardize both.
Social Worker Insurance: Do I Need My Own Coverage?
The biggest mistake social workers make with malpractice insurance is assuming they don’t need it. Social workers employed in offices, for instance, regularly believe they are covered by their employer’s policies. This is true, but that coverage is actually intended to protect the employer. Your interests may well be ignored if the office becomes involved in a lawsuit.
The best way to protect yourself is with your own coverage. Such a policy is designed to safeguard your interests whether you’re regularly subpoenaed to testify at court cases, involved with consultations, or provide supervision to clients. Even as you read this, you may be thinking you don’t need professional liability coverage, but keep in mind strange things do happen and working with unstable populations may exacerbate your risk of someone deciding you provided inadequate or bad service. Insurance is the equivalent of heading into a storm with both an umbrella and raincoat.
What Insurance Coverages Are Most Important?
Let’s start with medical malpractice, also known as professional liability insurance. This covers three major areas, including negligence. Whether rooted in fact or perception, social workers are at significant risk because they work with many clients of diverse backgrounds.
Malpractice insurance also provides coverage for sexual misconduct. If a client takes a comforting gesture or comment the wrong way, a claim of sexual harassment could ensue. And, finally, personal liability insurance can pay for defense costs like court and attorney fees. During a lawsuit, these can quickly reach tens of thousands of dollars – money you don’t have to pay when the right coverage is in place.
This coverage is also sometimes called commercial general liability and offers protection if you have your own practice. General liability is important because it covers a broad range of incidents, including those arising from other businesses or people while on your property.
Take, for instance, a personal injury suit that arises from a family attending therapy at your practice. One of the children gets injured while playing on your office furniture and needs medical attention. The family then sues you for subsequent medical costs as well as pain and suffering. General liability insurance can protect your business in the face of such a calamity.
To further illustrate the importance of general liability coverage, let’s consider a client who falls on ice walking into your office. She injures herself on the sidewalk and pursues you for a bodily injury claim.
And, finally, if you’re overheard making comments – true or not – about a client, and he learns of these comments, that client may sue for slander. In both cases, general liability insurance can protect you from financial ruin and allow you to keep the career you love.
Imagine if you accidentally emailed client information to the wrong recipient. Or, if your computer system was hacked and a data breach occurred. Both scenarios are frightening to envision, much less endure, but they can and do happen. The answer is cyber insurance, designed to protect you and your practice if you keep client data in any digital format, including on your cell phone, computer, or use a cloud-based storage service.
This insurance goes a step further and also safeguards you if a third-party provider, such as a data storage facility, suffers a security incident or data breach. These occur when confidential information, like personal financial data and patient records, is viewed, copied, or otherwise used by a person or company without authorization to do so.
In addition to dealing with the fallout of a data breach and attempts to recover data, social workers are subject to the compliance regulations of HIPAA. Penalties include fines, as well as civil and sometimes criminal cases. Clients can also sue for damages. We can’t stress enough how important cyber insurance is in today’s highly digitized world, where personal information is always vulnerable.
Understanding the Dangers
While you’re likely considering social worker insurance to protect yourself from lawsuits, another less recognized threat also puts you at risk: disciplinary action from licensing boards. Such action can inflict serious career damage and, unfortunately, is steadily rising.
Social workers aren’t acting more unprofessionally, but instead stronger regulations and easier complaint filing are key culprits. A complaint to the board can lead to a formal hearing and represents yet another reason why medical malpractice insurance is so important.
Designing a complete insurance package that meets all of your needs requires knowledge and experience. At NOW Insurance, we’re committed to working for you, providing the coverage you need at the most affordable rates possible. Learn more about our coverage for social workers. You can also get a rapid quote in less than three minutes by completing our easy online application.