Professional Liability Insurance
What is professional liability insurance and why do I need it?
- Professional liability insurance (PLI) protects a professional in the event of an error or omission in their professional practice that results in damages to a client. PLI covers legal expenses and any damages that may be awarded a client in the event of a legal suit. In this way, the professional is protected from financial risk up to the limits of the policy. Further, clients are assured that should they incur legitimate damages, any court ordered settlement could be paid up to the limit of the professional’s coverage.
- Essentially, Professional Liability Insurance covers your expenses in the event:
- a client/ colleague files a complaint about you to COTO
- a client sues you, claiming you are guilty of malpractice
- the police issue a criminal charge against you (i.e., resulting from fraud, theft, or sexual abuse claims)
- Professional liability insurance policies are deemed "claims made" policies, meaning that one needs to have an active policy at the time a claim is made. Even if one was covered at the time of an incident that lead to a complaint or lawsuit, if coverage isn't in place when the claimant logged the complaint/suit (which could be months/years later), the professional is not covered. For this reason it is critical that OTs maintain continuous coverage while working.
- The Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 requires Ontario's health professions' regulatory colleges to require registrants to carry PLI (section 93(y) of the Health Professions Procedural Code (schedule 2)
- For this reason, the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario's (COTO) by-laws reflect a requirement for PLI coverage and the College requires evidence of professional liability insurance as a criteria of eligibility for registration to practice as an occupational therapist in Ontario. Continuous insurance coverage is required. The College may revoke a Certificate of Registration if proof of liability insurance coverage is not provided annually as required. See COTO Policy 8-12 Professional Liability Insurance.
- In addition, the RHPA requires regulatory Colleges to provide funding for therapy and counselling in connection with allegations of sexual abuse by members. COTO has addressed the provision for funding for this by requiring that registered OTs' professional liability insurance provides for a Sexual Abuse Therapy and Counselling Fund endorsement that meets requirements set out in Regulation 59/94.
- Ontario occupational therapists should seek PLI coverage that minimally meets the coverage requirements of the College of Occupational Therapists. Other features to explore should include:
- Does the policy include a Legal Expenses Endorsement? This covers legal expenses you may incur to address any hearing or investigation related to issues/complaints to the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario
- Does the policy coverage extend to support personnel working under your supervision?
- Does the policy cover virtual care/telepractice?
- Does the policy cover Cyber and Privacy Liability coverage to protect
you in handling confidential information related to client/patient
- Are there extensions of coverage for after you retire so that you are covered in the event that a claim is made after you retire and no longer purchase insurance?
- What are the policy coverage limits? Not all insurance programs are the same!
OSOT offers a COMPLIMENTARY Professional Liability Insurance package to New Graduates that exceeds the requirements of the College and includes:
- Professional Liability Protection for Errors and/or Omissions
- covers expenses and/or damages (payment awarded to claimant) from malpractice claims or suits against you whether you are guilty or not
- Legal Expense Reimbursement
- covers legal fees relating to dealing with a complaint/investigation or disciplinary hearing with the College
- Sexual Abuse Therapy and Counseling Fund Endorsement
- for therapy and counselling of sexual abuse survivors
- Criminal Defense Reimbursement
- covers legal costs of criminal suits where you're found not guilty
- Protection for support personnel (e.g. OTAs) working under your supervision
- Free continued coverage for those on maternity/parental leave
- Coverage for professional activities outside of work - free advice, volunteering
- Cyber security and privacy coverage
- Coverage for virtual care/telepractice
- Access to coverage for out of province practice
- 7 year complimentary extension of coverage post retirement of your registration to practice
New Graduates can register for complimentary professional liability insurance
for the 2022-23 membership year. If you have any questions, contact our Member Services Manager, John Crawford