Top three claims made by therapists insured by Oxygen insurance

As a professional therapist, you’re focused on giving your clients the best possible care and support. In the background, professional indemnity (PI) insurance protects you and your business from the risks involved in your day-to-day activities.

Reviewing claims made by other therapists over the last five years can help demonstrate the cover PI insurance provides. Claims are also a good indicator for areas of improvement – learn from the mistakes of others and how to better manage risk in your practice.

The most common claims made by therapists insured through Oxygen fall into the following three categories:

  1. Complaints about advice and services
  2. Professional body claims
  3. Alleged breach of confidentiality/loss of documents

The top three PI claims made by Oxygen therapists

1. Complaints about the advice or services given

The most common type of claim dealt with by the Oxygen claims team in the last five years is circumstances where a therapist receives a complaint about their services. A dissatisfied patient may complain for a number of reasons, in many cases, the therapist has failed to ensure their patient understood the therapeutic process and what it would involve.

Steps to avoiding liability include:

  • ensuring you keep a record of clear notes
  • clearly detailing the terms of the therapy to your patient and in your notes
  • being clear who the client is and who you owe duty to
  • fully complying with requirements relating to minors or persons under a disability.

Hiscox offered the following real claim example.

The insured is acting as a mediator. One of the participants of a mediation conducted by the insured was unhappy with the outcome, and alleged that the mediator allowed the other participant to make calls to external parties and bring a person for support to the mediation. The mediator’s position was that the claimant also had the right/opportunity to do this during the mediation. Dissatisfaction and behaviour towards the mediator escalated until the police became involved. The participant also made a complaint about the insured to the Civil Mediation Council.

2. Alleged breach of rules or regulations of professional body

The second most common way complaints arise is direct to a therapist’s professional body. A patient might feel you have breached the rules and regulations of your professional body, or have not upheld standards expected by the profession.

Steps to avoiding liability include:

  • familiarising yourself with the framework of the professional body you belong to, and the professional standards you are required to meet as a member
  • communicating your commitment to meeting these professional standards to your patient and in your notes
  • keeping up-to-date on, and fully complying with rules and regulations set by your professional body.

Engaging with your professional body in this way will help mitigate the risk of breaching any rules or regulations you are held accountable to. The event of a patient making a complaint about your therapy services to your professional body can trigger a claim, and you may also be subject to potential sanctions imposed by the body.

3. Breach of confidentiality

Finally, the third most common claim is regarding the handling of sensitive information. Claims can arise from alleged breaches in confidentiality, or even the mishandling or loss of documents/personal sensitive information.

Steps to avoiding liability include:

  • exercising caution when therapy involves more than one party, e.g. couples counselling. Be sure to have a clear retainer and notes
  • being vigilant where there are other agencies involved, such as school, social services. Again, ensure you are very clear of your role/retainer – including who is the client
  • fully complying with requirements relating to minors or persons under a disability. Everyone involved in the therapeutic relationship needs to understand what can and cannot be discussed with them
  • seeking guidance from your professional body on what action to take when a client discloses something that is criminal or may result in harm to others.

Hiscox offered the following real claim examples.

The insured was accused of a breach in confidentiality. They were on a standing retainer for a GP. When the GP employed a new partner at the practice, the insured recognised the new partner, having treated them previously for recreational drug use. The insured felt a duty to warn the GP of this past behaviour.

An example of data breach is a claim involving a third party, such as a subcontractor, of the insured breaching GDPR regulations by sending a financial document to the wrong client or wrong email address.

Finally, one example of a claim for loss of documents occurred after the insured’s hard drive failed. The therapist wanted to cover the costs of retrieving the data from the hard drive as it is vital for her work. The claim was considered under the products liability section.

You never know when or why a client will make a claim against you. PI insurance ensures you have the necessary protection in place. Did you know you can now get a quote and buy PI online? Get a quote today or if you’d prefer to speak to the Oxygen insurance team, call 0330 1289 437.

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