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Professional liability insurance: Are you adequately covered?

Jan. 27, 2014 — Whether you’re new to practice or a seasoned professional, the decisions you make about purchasing or renewing professional liability insurance can make a world of difference if a claim is ever made against you.

January 27, 2014  By College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia

The College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia’s (CMTBC) Bylaws
define the minimum requirements for registrants: Each Active Registrant
must obtain and at all times maintain professional liability insurance
coverage in an amount of at least $2,000,000 per claim or per
occurrence, in a form that is satisfactory to the College.

many, professional liability insurance matters can take a back seat to
more tangible concerns, observes Kevin McIntyre, vice-president of the
Insurance Brokers Association of B.C. "People are typically focused more
on protecting the $10,000 worth of stuff in their office." He advises
his clients to consider the real risks.

"An $800,000 liability
claim would wipe you out financially if you didn’t have coverage," he
cautions. "You need to take it seriously."

In B.C., many RMTs
purchase their professional liability insurance through the Massage
Therapists’ Association of BC (MTABC), which offers group insurance
packages to its members. Others choose to work with an independent
insurance broker who specializes in health professional liability
insurance. Either way, it’s important to do your homework first to
ensure you’re adequately protected throughout your professional career.


Mind the gap when choosing coverage
not uncommon for RMTs to have breaks in their active status with CMTBC –
whether for leaves of absence (maternity, family caregiver), extended
travel or other reasons. And while the College does not require you to
carry professional liability insurance during these gaps in practice,
you may still be at risk for a claim against you.

There are two
types of professional liability insurance available to RMTs –
claims‐based and occurrence‐based. While MTABC offers an
occurrence‐based package, many other health professions favour a
claims‐based approach, according to McIntyre.

occurrence‐based insurance, your coverage is tied to the date the injury
allegedly occurred, not the date the claim was made. Therefore, if you
treated a patient in 2005 and she brings forward a claim against you in
2012, the claim would be covered by your policy from 2005.

On the
other hand, if you purchase claims-based insurance, your coverage
applies to the date the claim is first brought forward. Therefore, the
claim brought against you in 2012 for a 2005 treatment would be covered
by the policy you purchased for 2012. If you are inactive in 2012 and
have not arranged for insurance during this time, you will not be
covered. This issue also applies if you’re leaving practice or retiring.
You’ll need to purchase "tail coverage" to protect yourself against any
future claims.

It’s good to ask
Getting clear on the
difference between occurrence‐based and claims‐based insurance isn’t the
only thing to consider. Different aspects of the way you practice could
affect the kind of coverage you need.

When considering the
insurance that’s right for you, it’s important to ask as many questions
as you need in order to satisfy yourself that you truly understand the
policy you’re being offered.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • What is covered and what is excluded from the policy?
  • What are the limits of the policy? Do I have the option of increasing any of the limits, or can I “top up” with another policy?
  • Are
    there any extra options I can purchase, such as business interruption
    coverage, crime coverage, accident/disability coverage, or critical
    illness coverage?
  • Are there deductibles? How much are they?
  • What legal fees are covered? Are lawyers appointed by the insurance company, or can I use my own?
  • If I’m dual registered (e.g. RMT and R.Ac.), how does that affect my insurance needs?
  • Does
    the policy cover all the work I might do, such as on‐site or mobile
    massage, taping, splinting and different types of techniques?
  • Will the policy cover me if I work out of a home office? Do I need to revise my home insurance?
  • Does the policy cover work in another country or province?
  • Does the coverage apply to staff, RMT mentorships or student interns?
  • Am I covered for claims resulting from any activities teaching or learning massage therapy techniques?
  • Will my insurance cover me for any products I sell, such as lotions or exercise equipment?
  • Will
    I receive comprehensive documentation for my policy in lay language,
    including written notice of any policy changes that may affect my

This article was originally published in the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia’s website and is reposted on Massage Therapy Canada with permission from the College.

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