As we all know when our mouths are full from eating or from having no wisdom teeth and still plenty to say, communication is what makes the world go ‘round. If someone is having trouble with their speech or swallowing, they may seek assistance from a speech pathologist. Speech pathologists, or speech therapists, are in the business of diagnosing and treating speech and swallowing problems in adults and children. Because you are dealing with the public, you should have the proper insurance in place.
Working with people can be very rewarding, but there may be times where your patients are unhappy with the services you provided. Or, perhaps you unintentionally make a mistake that harms them. If this is the case, you may get sued. Obtaining the best Liability insurance for speech language pathologists is the best way to handle these risks within your profession without bankrupting yourself. If you work independently as a contractor or own a small practice, you might find yourself at a higher risk since you will not have the protection of a bigger practice with expensive lawyers.
There are several extremely important insurance policies that speech pathologists, speech therapists and neuro-linguistic programming practitioners should have. While Professional Liability insurance, which you have likely heard about, is essential to your profession and a cornerstone in any speech pathologists’ insurance coverages, many scenarios will not be covered by this type of insurance. Let’s take a look at some basic policies you should have at the very minimum to protect yourself properly.
General Liability – Claims of bodily injury to a third party and associated medical expenses and property damage are some examples of what General Liability will cover. If you have a patient come to your office for a visit and they bring a family member such as their child or spouse, and that person is injured after tripping over something, then they could sue you. Coverage for this lawsuit, as well as any costs to defend you in court, would be found here. If you practice speech therapy with children, it is even more important that you have General Liability insurance for speech language pathologists because we all know how rambunctious children can be. And, with how quick people are to sue at seemingly small occasions, parents could very well potentially come after you if their child gets hurt in your office, regardless of fault. This is why protection is so important, as it will help you avoid unnecessary costs or financial burdens on your place of business.
Workers Compensation – If you operate a small practice, or even a large one, and you have employees, then you will need Workers Compensation. Likely, the state you do business in will require you to have it anyway the minute you decide to hire someone. Besides avoiding fines for breaking the law, your employees will expect you to be able to provide medical expenses and lost wages should they suffer a work-related injury or illness. Luckily, Workers Compensation insurance for speech pathologists is very affordable since there are, on average, not a lot of claims here. You can see things like carpal tunnel or eye strain from looking at a computer may come to pass, but it is nothing like a roofer or welding business might encounter.
Cyber Liability – Chances are, you store patient information on a computer, as well as backed up somewhere like in the cloud or on external storage hardware. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where the risk of a data breach or cyber-attack has to be at the forefront of our minds. Since you are storing sensitive information about your patients, like social security numbers, Health insurance information and likely their health conditions, it is imperative that you have Cyber Liability insurance. Hackers are becoming more and more proficient at getting into systems and stealing data, now with the ability to get into backups as well. Gone are the days where a hacker would demand a small ransom in return for your data and you could ignore them and restore from your backup. Now, they are encrypting all your data and the ransom must be paid or you can end up losing millions of dollars in recovery fees, notification costs and software and hardware replacements. The healthcare field is the top field that is targeted by cybercriminals as the information is so valuable, so be sure to protect yourself by obtaining Cyber Liability insurance.
Commercial Property – Whether you own the building in which you see your patients or whether you rent, you will need Commercial Property insurance. Certainly, if you own the building, you will need to have insurance on the building, and then Business Personal Property coverage is necessary for the items inside like desks, computers and supplies. A great way to cut costs when putting together your insurance portfolio is by combining General Liability and Commercial Property by getting a BOP insurance policy. A great bonus that comes along with a BOP policy is Business Interruption coverage. If your office has to close due to a covered physical damage loss, like fire or wind, then Business Interruption will pay for your lost income so that you can continue to pay your bills and any key employees if you wish. Usually, this coverage is available for 12 months after the loss occurs with a short waiting period of 24-72 hours, depending on your policy. As always, you must read your policies thoroughly so that you know all of the inclusions, exclusions and any deductibles that will apply at the time of a loss.
Commercial Auto – Speech pathologists, speech therapists and neuro linguistic programming practitioners can travel to their patients. If you do travel to see patients, you might want to consider purchasing Commercial Auto insurance. Most Personal Auto insurance policies do not allow you to use your vehicle for business purposes, so be sure to look into that before you start going to clients’ homes.
Out of all the insurance policies that you need, Professional Liability insurance for speech language pathologists is the most critical policy to have. Because you are in a professional capacity and helping people by providing treatment and advice, this Professional Liability insurance, or Errors & Omissions policy, is going to provide coverage for the mistakes you might make, whether real or perceived. From personal injury claims like libel and slander to negligence and defense costs, the amount of money you would have to pay out of pocket for one of these claims is enough to bankrupt even the richest people. To understand the severity of how important Professional Liability insurance is, here is a common example.
A problem often encountered with children who have trouble developing their speech is a lisp. Many parents look to a speech therapist to fix this problem. Even if the speech therapist does not come out and blatantly say that they will make the lisp go away, that is what the parent’s expectation will likely be. If a family brings their child to you as a speech pathologist and you work with them for some time, and you improve the lisp but explain to the family that you have done everything you can, there is a chance you will get sued. They might say you were negligent and that your treatment did not work, which did not live up to the services you agreed to provide. Even if the lawsuit is thrown out, it will take money from your business.
Between court costs and attorney’s fees, you could end up still spending thousands of dollars just to prove you did nothing wrong. For this reason alone, Professional Liability insurance is critical to the financial wellbeing of you and your practice.
With social media marketing being a great way to get more clients these days, chances are you post photos. Let’s say you forget to get permission from a client to post them and then they claim you breached their confidentiality agreement… This could lead to another lawsuit that could potentially be financially devastating that would be covered by Professional Liability.
When it comes to the cost of liability insurance for speech language pathologists, there is no black and white answer. Not all speech pathologists will need the same insurance, such as if you have no employees, then you do not need Workers Compensation. However, there are some things to keep in mind that will affect how much insurance you pay.
Shopping for Speech Therapy Liability insurance can be such a pain, but CoverWallet makes it easy. You can quote and purchase all of your policies in one place and manage them easily over time. Having all of your insurance policies on one easy online platform takes much of the undue stress out of buying insurance. Plus, it is fast and easy. We at CoverWallet have educated advisors standing by, and we understand the desire for people to do things on their own online. Reach out to us today to explore insurance options that are right for you.
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