Why Does Every Social Worker Need Continuous Professional Liability Insurance?
Even the Very Best Social Workers Need Continuous Malpractice Coverage
Social work is a rewarding career, but it’s one with considerable risks. In today’s litigious society the number of social workers getting sued for malpractice is on the rise. And whether these charges are justified or without merit, you must defend yourself—at costs that can be staggering.
Don’t bet your future on the chance that a lawsuit will never happen to you! It could happen at any stage of your career, even years after you last saw the client or supervised a case. Therefore it’s vital to make sure you’re protected at all times because you would have had to carry coverage when you served the client, not when concern about allegations arises.
You Need Continuous Malpractice Coverage Throughout Your Career
A Claims-Made policy will cover you for alleged incidents that happen between the enrollment date and expiration of your policy, but claims must be reported while the policy is in force. Extended Reporting Endorsement, or Tail Coverage, is necessary to protect you against claims reports presented after the policy expires.
Because every time you work with a client, you run the risk of a lawsuit. Clients can sue you, but others can as well—parents, spouses, or others acting on the client’s behalf. If you don’t work directly with clients yourself, you still can be sued for the conduct of a person you supervise, teach, or train. And although good, ethical practice helps, it is not sufficient protection. Even if the charges are unjustified, you will still have to pay to defend yourself, and the legal fees can add up quickly.
A vast range of “wrongful acts” leaves social workers open to being sued. Allegations can include improper diagnosis; treatment without consent; incorrect treatment; reporting abuse or failure to report abuse; an incorrect referral or failure to refer a client; failure to prevent a client’s suicide; dual relationship with a client, sexual or otherwise; breach of confidentiality. These are just a few of the “wrongful acts” for which social workers are being sued.
Even if your employer provides some malpractice coverage, you should carry your own personal policy that looks out for you. That way you can control your personal coverage and benefits and the quality of your protection. And your own policy may become critically important when you change jobs.
Many suits are brought years after the social worker’s alleged error or omission occurs. Years later, you may find you’re held liable for an incident that occurred in your previous job, and there’s no longer protection from your former employer’s insurance.
That’s why it’s so important to continuously carry your own personal coverage throughout your career—so that you’re seamlessly protected by a policy that protects your interests first and foremost. In recent years social workers have been sued more and more frequently. It makes sense to cover yourself continuously with the plan by which all other social work professional liability programs are measured. Without continuous malpractice coverage, you’re exposing yourself to tremendous risk!