As a professional providing advice or therapeutic services, your clients will have high expectations from you, and rightly so, you're an expert in your field after all. However, despite this, sometimes clients may be dissatisfied with the service they have received. Whether you are at fault or not, you are exposed to allegations of negligence when your advice or service fails to meet a client's expectations.
Even if you successfully defend a claim made against you, there's a high chance you could be left with costly legal fees to pay. This could have a devastating impact on you and your business, including damage to your reputation.
Protecting yourself and your business
Of course, it's impossible to predict if a client might make a claim against you. If you’re a therapist or work in a people-based profession, you can protect yourself by ensuring you have the right professional indemnity insurance (PI) in place. PI provides cover for any legal costs and expenses you incur while defending a claim.
Accidents happen. Even the most experienced professionals can make mistakes. Suppose you're found responsible for giving inadequate advice or delivering a service that causes your client to lose money. In that case, PI can cover the cost of compensation payable. It can also help you manage the situation quickly and efficiently. The impact of a claim made against you can be damaging to your business. In most cases, the sooner you can respond to a claim, the better the outcome, both financially and for your reputation.
EXAMPLE 1: Breach of copyright
For example, a music therapist may use another therapist's intellectual property: resources or therapeutic tools. This can be an expensive mistake if this owner doesn't grant permission first, leading to a breach of copyright law.
EXAMPLE 2: When treatment goes wrong
On reviewing a client's notes, a psychotherapist recommends psychoanalytic therapy to address the unconscious feelings behind their problems. After receiving this treatment, the client might feel this route was a mistake or allege that bringing painful memories to the surface caused mental injury, job loss or a relationship breakdown.
What should I consider when buying PI insurance?
When arranging PI insurance, it's essential to ensure your cover is at the right level – you don't want to discover you're underinsured when you come to make a claim. On the other hand, no one wants to pay for unnecessary cover. If you know what cover you need, it’s quick and easy to buy your Oxygen insurance online. However if you need support, you can call one of our friendly advisors for help. Once cover is in place, make sure you read and understand your policy wording, endorsements and exclusions.
What else can I do to protect myself and my business?
As well as making sure you have the right level of PI, it's worth taking a look at your risk management. Are you doing everything to protect yourself? For example, are you carrying out the correct procedures concerning understanding clients' needs?
Offer initial consultations to establish their aspirations relating to your service, set goals to ensure you're providing the service that's right for them.
- Where necessary, obtain written consent and confirmation of any medical conditions before delivering your therapy sessions to a new client.
- Respect client confidentiality and adhere to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by only storing the personal data you need and for the correct length of time.1
- Check your marketing literature is clear, accurate and not misleading.
- If you have terms and conditions, or policies and procedures relating to your services, upload them to your website, so they're accessible for clients to review.
If you find yourself facing a claim made against you, you must be able to provide evidence to support the advice you have given. Therefore detailing your procedures and keeping copies of documents and notes on file is not only good practice but could protect you from a successful claim being made against you in the future.
From allegations of negligence to accusations of defamation or breach of copyright, these types of claims can be expensive and disruptive to your business. It's essential to have the right protection in place for your peace of mind so you can concentrate on supporting your clients.
1. https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation gdpr/#:~:text=Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)