Social work professionals deal with difficult issues and even more difficult clients. Like other professionals who work with the public, social work professionals can often make mistakes, and when those mistakes happen, lawsuits can follow. Some social workers might wonder whether they need to invest in a liability insurance policy to protect themselves against these claims. The answer depends upon a person's aversion to risk. Professional liability insurance is not a bad option for those who want to be especially careful. While it's not a must, it can set a social worker's mind at ease.
Are You Covered By Your Agency's Insurance?
One of the most important questions to ask is whether you have alternative coverage elsewhere. It would be foolish to invest in a policy if you could piggyback on the insurance of another entity. Many social workers for agencies are covered under the policies of their employers. As Social Work Today explains, this might not be enough. Even if you are covered by your employer, legal action brought against you might fall outside of the company's policy. Likewise, if a client sues your agency, the agency could sue you individually. Unless you are certain that your agency's coverage protects you, an additional insurance policy is likely a good idea.
The Risk Of Subpoena
As a social worker, you should be prepared for official subpoenas when lawsuits and criminal matters happen. After all, you will have worked with people going through difficult times, and you may be required to answer questions. Professional liability insurance can protect you when you have to go through these things. You might be forced to miss work in order to testify, and you might suffer costs as a result of those subpoenas. A good insurance policy can protect you against these unknown professional factors.
Do You Have An Insurance Requirement?
There might be some times when your insurance fate is lifted right out of your hands. With certain types of agencies and employers, you are required to carry a certain amount of liability insurance in order to get the contract or remain employed. Generally speaking, these entities will require you to carry insurance with appropriate limits to protect you in the rare case that someone files a lawsuit. The typically per claim minimum is $1,000,000. Most of these employers also require you to hold a $3,000,000 aggregate claims policy. This gives you enough protection so that you can withstand a relatively large lawsuit without having your practice go under. The good news is that you can find policies for cheap.
How Much Risk Can You Take?
If you are not required to get your own insurance, then you have to ask yourself a question about risk. Professionals agree that going on without insurance is a serious risk. If you are sued or if something goes wrong, you could lose your business or your personal assets. People who are risk-averse should certainly consider liability coverage. If you are willing to take risks, then you might be able to gamble on going without coverage. It is important to remember that bad things often happen to good people, and you might not be able to avoid problems in the future.
If you plan to practice as a social worker, you have to think about the virtue of professional liability insurance. Whether you need it depends upon your employer situation, your requirements, and your capacity of risk-taking. In most cases, social workers will benefit from holding an inexpensive policy.