In an increasingly legally-aware society it is important that all businesses and professionals are aware of their needs and responsibilities when it comes to insurance policies. Counselling professional indemnity insurance protects a counselling business in the event that a client or other third party makes a claim against the business for any mistakes that are made or if the organisation is accused of being negligent.
Counselling as a profession is undergoing changes which will mean it is subject to the same standards as other professions such as nursing, social work and teaching. A person’s own counselling professional indemnity or liability insurance is needed when working as a professional psychotherapist in a private practice, although some will already be covered if employed or by the NHS or working in an associated clinic.
The cost of mounting a defence for a professional liability claim can be extremely high. As a professional counsellor, a person will be seen as an expert in their field and is open to action if a mistake is made in delivering advice.
Counselling is highly specialised and involves giving a highly personal service. Therefore it is arguably a profession at particular risk of legal claims. A counselling professional indemnity insurance policy will help protect an individual or counselling practice with regard to any legal liability which arises out of the exercise and conduct of the business. A policy will typically protect the person or practice against loss of or damage to documents, the infringement of any copyright, defamation, libel and slander against the agency and will also cover against any dishonest actions of any employees, such as theft of money from clients.
Counsellors should also note that they should have cover both at the time of an event and when the claim is made. So, it will not be possible to receive a legal claim from a client regarding an event which happened six months ago, and then take out a professional indemnity insurance policy and successfully get cover from it for this historical claim. Neither will it be possible to get protection on any legal claim made after the policy is taken out as a result of an event which occurred before the life of the policy began.
However, some providers will supply retroactive cover which will protect against subsequent claims relating to events before the start of a policy. If a counselling practice closes or if a counsellor operating as a sole trader retires, they should organise a ‘run off’ or ‘overrun’ period of cover which will protect against any legal claim made after this.
Legal action from a client is a disruptive and distressing event for any business but can also be a financially crippling event for an individual or practice. Counselling professional indemnity insurance can give peace of mind and protection against action from clients that would otherwise cripple a business and leave it unable to keep going.