Having your own occupational therapy liability insurance can give you peace of mind.
According to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Jobs Rankings, an occupational therapy career is the ninth best health care-based career in the country and the 11th best field to work in period. What makes this profession so great? Future growth.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that occupational therapy jobs are expected to grow by as much as 24 percent by the year 2026, whereas the average rate across all jobs in the U.S. is only seven percent.
This means that a lot of people will likely enter this profession in the years ahead trying to determine what they do and don’t need to make their careers as an OT as successful as it can be. One question that typically comes up in this process is whether or not to carry occupational therapy liability insurance.
OT and Liability
In Occupational Therapy: Principles and Practice, authors Alice J. Punwar and Suzanne M. Peloquin point out that “each state that regulates occupational therapy practice has a practice act that spells out the parameters of legal practice within that jurisdiction.” They go on to explain that actions deemed illegal by these parameters can not only put OTs at risk of legal prosecution, but also malpractice.
Malpractice claims, should they occur, can “devastate a practitioner’s finances as well as his/her career,” says Punwar and Peloquin. Case in point: Medscape reports that the average malpractice payout when a case is settled out of court is $425,000. When dealing with a jury trial, it’s closer to $1 million, if not more.
Although many people think of intentional wrongdoing when they hear the word malpractice, this type of claim can easily arise out of an everyday activity. For instance, if you’re transitioning an elderly patient from a bed to a wheelchair and he or she slips and sustains an injury, you may find yourself in court.
American Nurse Today reports that although doctors have historically faced lawsuits more often than those in other medical positions, that trend is shifting. All healthcare professionals are now being recognized for their contributions to the healing process and “with that recognition comes individual accountability.” While this article talks about nurses specifically, this trend also extends to an OT as they’re another important part of the healthcare team.
Liability Provided by Employers
This typically brings about a second question, and that is whether or not you need to carry your own occupational therapy liability insurance if you’re employed by a healthcare agency that provides a policy for you. Based on the number of OTs in this situation, it’s a fair concern.
According to the Bureau of Labor, a majority of individuals in the occupational therapy profession (26 percent) work in hospitals. The second most common setting is office space, dedicated solely to some type of therapy—physical, occupational, or speech—or even audiology (24 percent), but OTs also work in schools (10 percent), nursing care facilities (9 percent), or provide home healthcare services (8 percent).
It’s not uncommon when you’re on payroll from one of these companies to be offered some type of insurance as a benefit of employment. However, sometimes it isn’t enough. To know for sure, it helps to ask:
- What is the payout limit? (Keep in mind the average payout in malpractice cases and whether the amount provided by your employer would cover it.)
- Is it a shared policy? (Meaning that if someone else that has that policy in the agency gets sued and loses, there could be no money left to payout your claims.)
- What types of services are covered by the policy?
- Does the policy cover legal representation too?
- What about wages you lose while off work and preparing for your legal battle?
Purchasing Your Own Occupational Therapy Liability Insurance
If you’re unsatisfied with the answers you receive or want to ensure that you and your family are covered in the event that a patient decides to take you to court, we recommend purchasing your own occupational therapy liability insurance to give you peace of mind. In this case, ideally, you want to choose an insurance provider who knows the coverage you need as an OT.
My OT Insurance is one such company which offers different policies based on your individual needs. For instance, they offer professional liability and general liability options, as well as product liability policies and additional coverages related to identity protection, rental damage, and stolen equipment.
Not only is My OT Insurance quick to obtain (you can literally have an active policy in less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee), but it’s also portable. If your career as an OT takes you out of state temporarily or permanently, you don’t have to wonder or worry about whether you’re covered, your policy will travel with you.
If you’re asking yourself, do I need liability insurance as an OT? The answer is yes. It’s simply something no health care professional today should go without.