Liability Insurance Basics

So, you’ve got all your credentials and are ready to start providing nutrition counseling, congratulations! But before you see your first patient, you’ll want to make sure you have liability insurance. Insurance companies won't contract providers who don’t have professional liability insurance, but even if you're only accepting private-pay clients, we highly recommend having some coverage. 

In the medical field, professional liability insurance is often referred to as malpractice insurance. Malpractice insurance is liability insurance that protects healthcare providers should their professional judgment be called into question. A claim may be brought against a provider if a patient experiences bodily harm, incurs medical expenses or property damage as a result of the provider's counseling. Most insurance companies require providers to have a policy that covers them for at a minimum $1,000,000 per incident/occurrence and $5,000,000 aggregate. Providers are covered only for incidents that occur during the length of the policy, which is typically a year. If a policy is not renewed at the end of its term, it will lapse.

In addition to professional liability insurance, providers may want to consider general liability insurance. General liability is most similar to homeowner's insurance as it covers day-to-day events that can result from owning your own practice. For example, general liability will cover claims that are filed based on an injury a patient obtained while on the provider’s premise. This is different than the bodily harm covered by malpractice insurance, which is a result of the provider’s professional judgment. Insurance companies typically don’t require a general liability insurance policy but it's something to consider when starting your own practice.

As a solo practitioner, it's essential to have your own malpractice insurance policy in place. If you're working for an employer, you'll want to thoroughly read through their insurance policy to understand how you as an employee are covered. Not all employer policies will provide enough coverage for you as a practitioner, so you may want to have your own personal policy as well.