Social workers are involved in many activities dealing with everything from youth work to helping the aging to working with those suffering from HIV/AIDS. As a company or an individual offering services in the area of social work, you are faced with a number of risks associated with the work you do. You may also have to satisfy certain contractual requirements in order to begin an assignment from a client. Social work malpractice insurance can provide needed protection.
Social Worker Facts
- The Bureau of Labor reports that there are about 650,000 social workers in the U.S.
- There are two main types of social workers -- direct service and clinical
- The demand for social workers is expected to grow 25% by 2020
What Is Social Worker Insurance?
Whether you run a company or are a sole practitioner, you will need certain basic insurance coverages:
- Property insurance for your real property (if you own your own building).
- Coverage for your business furniture, equipment and office supplies.
- General liability insurance to protect you against bodily injury or property damage you may cause.
- Professional liability to protect you against allegations of errors or omissions in your work.
- Automobile liability insurance, if your company owns vehicles or you drive a personal vehicle in the course of your work day.
- Non-owned auto coverage if you do not own vehicles but your employees drive their vehicles on your business.
- Workers compensation coverage in case your employees suffer work-related illnesses or injuries.
Why Do I Need Professional Liability Insurance?
If you are responsible for bodily injury or property damage to another person, your general liability policy will protect you against claims and lawsuits. But if you are accused of committing an error or omission in your work that has caused another person or firm to suffer damages, your general liability policy will not cover you. For this kind of claim, you must carry professional liability, also known as errors and omissions insurance.
Even if you feel you do not need social work malpractice insurance, it will probably be required of you if you sign a contract to provide professional social work services.
A professional liability policy will provide defense coverage on your behalf, even if a claim is unfounded. Defense costs can often equal the amount of a potential judgment.
Malpractice insurance for social workers needs to be carefully crafted to mitigate the risks you face in your line of work. Work with a knowledgeable local agent when seeking this and other business insurance to ensure that you meet all state regulations, and get a customized policy just for you.
It is very common for a firm or individual doing social work to be offered a contract by a third party. Such a contract will almost certainly require you to assume responsibility for liability that would not otherwise be yours, such as:
- Additional named insured coverage: Makes your client an additional insured under your insurance policies
- Waiver of subrogation: Places responsibility for recouping payment from a responsible party with your insurance company
- A primary and non-contributory clause: Frees your client from the responsibility of contributing to a loss.
- Broad form contractual liability: This means you agree to hold your client harmless from any claims arising from your activity.
You will probably be required to provide your client with a certificate of insurance documenting that all these requirements have been met.
Designing a complete business insurance package that meets all your needs is a job for an experienced agent. Make sure the agent you're working with represents a highly rated insurer and has a strong understanding of the risks you face at work each day.
What Is a Waiver of Subrogation?
In some situations, your insurance company will pay a claim on your behalf and then inherit your rights to recoup its payment from others who might be partially responsible. Such an action is called subrogation. By contractually waiving your rights of subrogation against your client you are preventing your insurance company from seeking redress from them, even if they might be partially responsible for a loss.
Note that you must be sure that your policy allows you to waive these rights. Only a properly designed social work malpractice insurance program will provide the type of contractual liability you need.
What Is a Primary and Non-Contributory Clause?
In some situations both your policy and your client's insurance policy might provide coverage for a claim. By agreeing to make your policy primary and non-contributory you are freeing your client from the responsibility of contributing to the loss.
It might seem unreasonable to you that you are forced to give up certain rights in order to obtain a contract for work. However, such provisions are standard in the industry and the important thing for you is to be sure that your insurance coverage recognizes these conditions.
This is why it is critical to work with an agent who understands social worker liability insurance.
Comparing Social Work Malpractice Insurance Rates
Helping other people solve their problems and better their lives can be very rewarding work. Like any other business, however, it comes with risks that can undermine your financial well-being. A properly written insurance program can free you from the worry of an uncovered loss.
There are no standard policies in the area of social worker liability insurance. Coverage and wording can differ dramatically from one insurance company to another. Before committing to a policy ask for a sample contract and review it with your agent and your attorney.