As a Medical Professional, a nutritionist offers professional advice and services. A professional liability insurance policy is a form of coverage that offers vitally important protection to such a professional. Ensuring that you and your practice have an adequate amount of Professional Liability coverage is one of the first steps to building a successful private practice with peace of mind.
To start, lets assume you have already completed the necessary steps involved with legally structuring your nutrition private practice. In this article we will explore Professional Liability insurance and the varying types of insurance policies associated with operating as a nutritionist.
It’s a good idea to double check to make sure you have all the necessary legal documents, such as correctly structured Non-Disclosure Agreements, Client Packets and Release Forms.
Now let’s jump into understanding the basics of Professional Liability insurance.
Do I need a Professional Liability Insurance Policy?
Currently, you should find yourself inside one of these two categories:
- You are making the decision to open your own private practice as a Nutritionist and need to better understand the fundamentals of Professional Liability insurance. Or;
- You have jumped the gun, opened up shop and rolled out the welcome mat without any reliable form of Professional Liability insurance, or E&O Policy to protect you from those unexpected “when/ if it’ll happen” moments.
The best advice you will ever get is simple; Buy your policy EARLY! You don’t want to leave it to the last minute. Make sure you are insured and protected well before you open your doors.
And here’s why:
Having your insurance policy already in place before those doors swing open means your private practice has the right protection from day one.
Having an active Professional Liability policy in place will provide you with the peace of mind that if something were to go wrong, you have some form of protection. In the instance that one of your clients were to file a lawsuit against you for negligence or they claim you provided them with inaccurate advice, this type of policy would help by paying for the cost to defend you and the cost of damages awarded to the other party – up to the limits of the policy.
However, if you find yourself a part of the second category outlined above who has been working as a nutritionist without the proper insurance coverage. you will need to find a coverage plan that offers protection beyond your effective policy start date, potentially covering you for a previous allotment of time.
A policy such as this is called a claims made professional liability policy. The policy will respond to claims made while it is in force even if the incident that resulted in the claim took place prior to when the policy was purchased.
It is important to remember that although immediately purchasing an adequate Professional liability insurance policy is the best measure at this time, it may not extend back far enough. This all depends on the amount of time in which you were in practice without the protection of a Professional Liability insurance policy in place.
Let’s explore the ins and outs of Professional Liability insurance and what it means when it comes to protecting your nutritionist practice.
What Is Professional Liability Insurance?
As simple as that question may be, there still seems to be a lot of confusion about what a Professional Liability policy does for you as a nutritionist. The confusion is understandable since the coverage does many things and can be customized to fit your practice. There are three different terms for this form of liability insurance.
Professional Liability Insurance, or PLI, is also called Professional Indemnity Insurance, or PII, and is more commonly known as Errors & Omissions (E&O) in the US.
Regardless of what you call it, Professional Liability Insurance in a nutshell is a form of insurance coverage for professionals who give advice and provide services to others.
Specifically, a Professional liability policy protects nutritionists from bearing the full cost of a legal defense against a negligence claim made by a client. It can also cover damages awarded in such a lawsuit.
The primary reason for professional liability coverage is that a typical general liability insurance policy will only respond to such circumstances such as a bodily injury, property damage, personal injury or advertising injury claim.
In short, a Professional Liability policy will protect you from liabilities arising from your actual professional work. On the other hand, General liability protects you if you are found responsible for someone elses injuries or property damage that arises from circumstances that don’t have anything to do with your actual profession. A slip and fall in your office would be a classic example of a General Liability claim.
However, an injury stemming from prescribing a diet that a patient has a documented allergy to would be a professional liability.
Other forms of insurance cover employers, public representation, and product liability. Professional Liability insurance is required by law in some areas for nutritionist professional practices.
If you are not in private practice, professional liability insurance is still important. As an employee at say, a home health agency, you may be covered under your employer’s insurance policy. However, if you do end up named in a lawsuit, your own professional liability policy will step in to make sure you have your own attorney.
As a nutritionist in a care giving role, this added layer of protection can protect you from great financial loss.
What Does A Professional Liability Insurance Do to Protect Me?
There comes a time where the relationship between you and another party may become strained or unprofessional. It’s just a small part of being an entrepreneur and operating a business that provides a product or service. You are going to meet all types of people as you continue to work on expanding your business and some of these individuals will undoubtedly push you beyond your comfort zone, and regardless of your effort, will never be satisfied.
Professional Liability insurance mitigates some of the cost and other consequences that may arise when a client of your product or service files a civil claim against you or your employer.
Professional Liability Insurance is there to meet the needs of nutritionists in a variety of work settings. This type of coverage protects you if you see clients in your own office, travel to your patients’ homes or work in a facility such as a hospital or rehabilitation center.
Common claims that professional liability insurance covers are:
- A nutritionist can find themselves in a lawsuit if a patient chokes while they are not properly supervised.
- A client could choose to sue a nutritionist if they feel the recommended diet made them ill
- Nutritionists can also be named in lawsuits that are targeted to the facility in which they’re employed. For example, a patient death at a long-term care facility can lead to a lawsuit that involves the entire facility from nurses to doctor to nutritionists.
Professional Liability insurance covers claims that come up during the policy period. The policy offers protection to nutritionists for any financial loss that occurs as the result of a claim involving an error, omission or a negligent act. The protection is there even if the claim is unfounded.
This type of insurance is in fact pretty common all over the world, with each country having their own regulations and policies in place.
What Are Some Other Insurance Policies A Nutritionist Should Have?
If you are already investing your time into responsibly learning about liability insurance, business structuring, etc., this article will go the extra mile and reveal some of the other more sought after and recommended insurance options.
General Liability Coverage for Nutritionists
General Liability Coverage is also a very useful for nutritionists.
General liability coverage is sometimes required by your landlord if you rent a space for your practice. This type of insurance is useful for nutritionist because it protects you from financial loss due to accidents, including the following:
- Accidents that occur in your office
- Accidents that occur outside of your office such as the parking lot
- Claims of personal and advertising injury that may arise from the day to day promotion of your practice.
In conclusion, you have hopefully reached that “Oh, yeah! I get it!” moment we all so desperately hope for when researching something as crucial and important as owning and operating your own Private Nutrition Practice safely and legally.
Some of the key points we have covered
- What A Professional Liability Insurance Is
- What Such An Insurance Policy Offers Your Business
- And a few different insurances offered on the market that will be worth looking into.
If you have any questions, comments, advice, personal experience dealing with PLI and E&O from an Insurance Agent’s or Private Practice Owner’s perspective, leave your input down below.
Click here to find out more about nutritionist liability insurance.