As a practicing psychiatrist, you treat the mental health of your clients with the utmost care. You have sought to learn the latest trends in your field and do your best to provide your patients with what they require to recover and live fulfilling lives. You help individuals who have anxiety, depression and are in recovery. These patients come from different walks of life and different backgrounds. You endeavor to make them aware of their strengths and validate the fact that, despite their mental condition, they are still loved and valued.
You are as caring as possible to your patients, but who is looking after your practice while you are helping them? In order to protect your practice from potential liability claims, you need to be insured. A mental health professional needs a minimum of two types of insurance:
- Professional liability insurance: Insures you for errors or omissions occurring while providing your professional psychiatric services to your patients.
- General liability insurance: Insures your practice for bodily injury, property damage, premises medical payments and limited personal and advertising injury claims. This coverage strictly excludes coverage for professional acts.
Why mental health counselors need Professional liability insurance?
As a mental health professional, you deal with a many people who maybe at their most vulnerable point in their life. Your clients feel comfortable approaching you and coming to you with any problems they're facing. However, as a psychiatrist, you may also be vulnerable and at risk. An indifferent client or one who felt the guidance you offered put them in a worse mental state than they were before seeing you. A patient could initiate a malpractice claim against you and with the help of a personal injury attorney, decide to sue.
Settlements such as these could have a serious financial impact on the budget of a small psychiatric practice. Even if a case is dismissed, you will need to cover legal and administrative fees. And if the case doesn't go your way, you'll have to cover court costs and awarded compensation, as well.
Therefore, in order to be sure that malpractice claims do not make it onto the books, be sure to take the following risk avoidance steps:
- Make sure you properly evaluate a client's history.
- Record each session with thorough documentation.
- Stay informed about your state's standards of care.
- Set expectations for your patients and refer them if they need treatment outside of your practice area.
- Establish and uphold professional boundaries.
Nonetheless, regardless of your preventative measures, you must still carry professional liability insurance. Why is that? Because your clients pay you for counseling. And that means you can be sued, even if you're not at fault. Even if an incident is unfounded, professional liability insurance can help with the expenses of defending the claims against you. This allows you to go about taking care of your other patients' wellbeing without having grave concerns about your practice.
What is covered under Professional Liability Insurance?
You and your professional employees are all covered under professional liability insurance for the following claims:
- Errors & Omissions -You failed in your duty of care, made a mistake, delivered the wrong diagnosis, prescribed the wrong medication -if these result in causing harm or injury to your patient.
Professional liability insurance will also cover your legal fees for covered claims as well as court awarded compensation or damages.
Moreover, after you have continuous professional liability claims made coverage, you have protection from claims made today for prior acts with past customers. Just make sure if you change insurance companies, the retroactive date on the new policy matches what you had on your prior malpractice policy.
Like all policies, there are exclusions, a few are sexual misconduct, punitive damages and intentional and criminal acts.
Why Psychiatrist practices need General Liability Insurance
It's important to maintain general liability insurance since accidents happen and insurance claims are expensive.
For example, that coffee table which you carefully positioned as a reminder of the proper boundaries between the patient and the therapist is there for patients to put their personal belongings on as well. What if you accidentally spill your freshly brewed coffee on a client's new smartphone? Or laptop? Or a designer bag? They're all pricey items to replace.
Or what if a client trips over the coffee table and is hurt? After medical treatment, he must take two months off from work and needs physical therapy as well. Could you afford to pay his medical bills and make up for his lost wages if he sues you for bodily injury liability?
General liability insurance covers your legal liability resulting from claims arising from your premises and operations, such as damage to others' property or bodily injury while at your office. Having this coverage will give you peace of mind while you focus on helping your patients’ mental health. No need to worry about a minor slip-up turning into a major financial problem for you.
What is covered under General Liability Insurance?
General liability insurance will cover you and anyone you employ (including temporary staff and volunteers) for the following:
- Bodily Injury liability
- Property damage liability
- Damage to rented premises
- Medical payment (good will coverage, legal liability does not have to be proven)
- Personal Injury claims of libel or slander
- Advertising Injury (accidental improper use of another’s logo, slogan or trademark)
General Liability Insurance covers claims for the above, up to the limits purchased on your policy.
Why Psychiatrists need small business insurance?
There are other policies that should be considered by Psychiatrists to protect your assets and practice. Some of the situations where insurance place a pivotal role are:
Office hit by a burglary
Your front office's main room has numerous expensive computers and other equipment and the prescription medications are stored in the back office. When you walk through the door one morning, you find that your office has been broken into. The computer equipment is stolen, the waiting room has been trashed, and the prescription drug storage has been emptied. Property insurance would help to pay for the expense of replacing the stolen items. Without it, you would be need to pay from your bottom line for the cost of replacement.
Staff abuse by high-anxiety patients
Your office staff is in charge of documenting, accepting, and scheduling appointments, and filing insurance claims and patient billing. The patients in your practice arrive with many different diagnoses. If a patient experiences a psychosis, there is a possibility interaction between patient and staff will result in bodily harm to the staff members, the staff will be protected under workers' compensation. Workers' Compensation covers medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages when an injured staff member is hurt on the job and cannot perform their duties.
Healthcare facilities are every cybercriminal’s dream
Cyber-crimes in the healthcare industry are becoming more widespread than other business sectors. Cybercriminals are more likely to target health facilities, as many of these businesses aren't well-defended against hackers. Other than hospitals, small healthcare offices aren't as digitally secure as larger ones. Cybercriminals can more easily infiltrate their servers without being detected. Hackers make use of the information they can access from servers in order to steal sensitive patient information, and ultimately, patient identities. Ransomware or cyber extortion is employed with the bad actor threatening to release all the private information to the public unless the ransom or extortion amount is paid. Creating and maintaining a strict cybersecurity strategy and buying a cybersecurity insurance policy will protect your practice from the aggravation of a cyber threats.
Types Of Coverage Some Family Counseling Practices May Need
At some point in your practice, you might need to assume other sorts of coverage depending on the unique aspects of your business. Please review each policy with your agent to make sure all the relevant listings apply to your interests.
Commercial Auto Insurance
Since it is common for counselors to provide transportation for clients under 18 or clients with special requirements, you'll need to invest in commercial auto insurance for a company owned vehicle. Any vehicle you use primarily for business requires this coverage to protect your vehicle, driver, and others on the road in the event of an accident. Whereas most states have mandatory coverage, this leaves small businesses vulnerable to potential legal consequences. Hence, contact an insurance expert to determine the ideal coverage and limits for your small business.
Commercial Umbrella Insurance
While your typical general, auto and employer liability insurance limits are sufficient to cover most claims, some claims or lawsuits may be so costly that they threaten to exceed the limits of your primary coverage. Your commercial umbrella policy will pay for covered claims once your primary policy limits are exhausted up to the umbrella limit.