As an occupational therapist (OT), there are certain investments you can make to better safeguard yourself. One is to invest in your own health and wellness so you’re better able to care for your patients and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shares that this involves creating healthy lifestyle habits, managing your stress, building strong relationships with family and friends, and being preventative with your own medical care.
There are also investments you can make as an OT that will help you better safeguard your career. The first is to obtain the education and training necessary to offer patients safe, professional, and effective occupational therapy services. The second is to get liability insurance.
What Is Liability Insurance?
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) explains that liability insurance helps protect your assets should someone get hurt or have their property damaged while in your care or at your facility. It does this by covering the costs associated with the injury or damage, but it also pays your legal defense and any award issued against you, up to the amount of your policy coverage.
The SBA goes on to say that, if you own your own business, liability insurance can also help protect you in the event that one of your employees causes property damages or injuries to others. According to Cornell Law School, this is called respondeat superior and is a legal doctrine that holds employers responsible for employee’s wrongful acts “if such acts occur within the scope of the employment or agency.”
Types of Liability Insurance Relative to Occupational Therapy
There are many different types of liability insurance, each one designed to offer its own protections. However, the ones most relative to the occupational therapy setting include:
- General liability. This type of policy protects you financially in the event someone gets hurt or has their personal items damaged while on your property or in your care, also paying for legal fees and judgments should the individual file and/or win a claim. For instance, if a patient were to slip, fall, and hit their head while in your practice, general liability would pay for his or her medical care. It would also cover costs associated with your defense should that person decide to take you to court, which includes attorney fees and any monies a judge or jury would determine you owe (up to the amount on the policy).
- Professional liability. Professional liability insurance, sometimes referred to as professional indemnity insurance, was designed to offer protections for those who provide professional services to others. With OTs specifically, professional liability insurance would cover the costs associated with someone who is somehow injured during a treatment session.
- Product liability. Working as an OT, you likely use a number of different pieces of equipment to help your patients recover and heal. Product liability insurance protects you in the event that your patient is injured by one of them, or any other type of product you typically use.
Why Is Liability Insurance Necessary?
Unfortunately, we live in a litigious world where anyone can file a lawsuit any time they’d like for any reason whatsoever. And some people do.
Legal Zoom shares that lawsuits have been filed over coffee because it was hot and beer that didn’t fulfill its advertised promise of making the beer drinker more appealing to the opposite sex. Burglars have also sued their victims if they suffered injuries during the break-in and, in 1995, one Virginia prison inmate even sued himself for violating his own civil rights by getting drunk and committing crimes.
Granted, many of these types of cases get thrown out of court, but you still have the costs of defending yourself in the meantime. And if you don’t have liability insurance, this means that you have to take the money out of your own personal budget to fight the battle in court, impacting you and your family financially until the case can be settled.
Plus, medical malpractice occurs more often than you may think. Becker’s Hospital Review provides a state-by-state breakdown of these types of cases and Louisiana ranked the highest with 44.1 malpractice suits per 100,000 residents, with a total payout of $59 million. Hawaii had the least at 4.9 suits per 100,000 residents, but the payouts was still $6.2 million, way more than the average person could easily pay.
Liability insurance essentially reduces your financial risk, offering you peace of mind that your family will not be impacted should someone get hurt or suffer damage to their property in the course of doing business with you.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing OT Liability Insurance
Before purchasing liability insurance as an OT, you want to think about how much coverage you need. The SBA suggests that, the more risk you have, the more coverage you need. For instance, if you are self-employed, you likely need more coverage than an OT who is employed by an agency and has additional coverages under that company’s policies.
It also helps to find a liability insurance provider who is familiar with your industry and can offer coverages most pertinent to your field. My OT Insurance is one within the occupational therapy space, offering all three of the policies previously discussed: general liability, professional liability, and product liability.
In addition to providing insurance options for OT students and group options if you operate an occupational therapy business, My OT Insurance also offers instant coverage that not only protects you in your home state, but in the U.S. as a whole.
Yes, purchasing insurance is an additional cost, but it is one that can save you and your family financial grief if something were to occur. That makes it a great investment to consider, on a number of different levels.