Professional counsellors are providing an increasingly important role in society and in some cases provide a service which is central to improving the mental health and well being of patients or clients. Their advice and skills may be recommended by doctors and they are seen as experts in their field. Because of this level of responsibility, counsellors face a relatively small but highly significant risk of facing legal action in certain circumstances. And that is where counselling indemnity insurance can step in.
Imagine a patient or client who receives regular counselling sessions. Over time they may fail to make progress and, rightly or wrongly, believe their counsellor’s advice might be to blame. They could then sue, claiming the counsellor has made mistakes in the conduct of their business. This is where counselling indemnity insurance can provide a lifeline.
Such policies are designed to kick in if the policyholder suddenly faces the prospect of defending a legal claim following a mistake or act of negligence. It is no secret that hiring a legal defence is not cheap, and the cost may even cripple some businesses. A counselling indemnity insurance policy is designed to cover these costs in the event of a successful claim.
Professional indemnity insurance of this type also protects a business or individual if they lose or damage important documents entrusted to them. It will also cover an individual counsellor or a firm as a whole should they face a legal case which claims they have breached confidentiality or confidence. The risk of being sued for libel or slander is low, but a professional indemnity insurance policy will also cover this.
In summary a policy will cover the legal costs relating to such situations up to certain limits. There will often be an excess to bear in mind, as with more traditional insurance policies. This means the insured agrees to pay legal costs up to a certain pre-agreed amount, after which the insurance starts picking up the bill.
Historic claims are also something to think about when taking out a counselling indemnity insurance policy. A big time gap can exist between an event and a subsequent legal claim. A firm may take out a policy and then suddenly find a backdated claim arrives which relates to something which took place before the policy started. Thankfully, some insurers will provide what is known as ‘retroactive’ cover for this eventuality. Similarly, ‘run off’ or ‘overrun’ cover can also be arranged for a period after someone changes jobs or insurers.
Counsellors working in or with the NHS might first wish to check to see whether they already have a form of counselling indemnity insurance cover in place through the organisation. If not then it is simply a case of deciding what level of cover is needed and getting a quote. In the long run a policy can then save a lot of emotional and financial upheaval.