Frequently Asked Questions
What is Professional Liability Insurance and why do I need it?
Professional Liability, also called Malpractice Liability Insurance, protects you from incidents arising from your Occupational Therapy practice in Canada, subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions under the policy. It is a third-party policy for suits arising from the “negligence” in the rendering of or failure to render professional services. If you are a registered, practicing Occupational Therapist in Canada, whether practicing for a week or for a year, full-time or part-time, you need Professional Liability insurance. You are still liable for your services, regardless of whether you are being paid for the service you provide; you may be a “volunteer” for a sports team, or you may be providing casual “advice” to friends or acquaintances. You are protected if you teach or participate in courses involving clinical demonstrations on patients.
If my employer provides Professional Liability insurance, is there a need for me to carry my own coverage?
You need to be aware of what you may not be covered for. In the event someone files a formal complaint against you with your regulatory College, you are likely not covered through your employer’s insurance in order to defend yourself. If you have insurance only through your employer, you may have to pay these legal expenses yourself. Keep in mind that you may only be covered in your capacity as an employee of the facility where you work. This may exclude coverage for “casual” advice to friends. To minimize your risk, ask your employer exactly what you are covered for.
I am on a leave of absence from the profession. Do I need to carry Professional Liability insurance?
The Professional Liability policies offered through CAOT are issued on a “claims made” basis. “Claims made” means that when a claim is reported, regardless of when it occurred (i.e.: regardless of the day you treated the client), the policy in place at the time the claim is brought forward will be the one to respond to the claim. It is recommended that you maintain insurance until you retire or cease practice.
I want to remain registered to the practice but I am currently not working. Do I need to carry Professional Liability insurance?
Because Occupational Therapists are regulated health professionals in all ten provinces in Canada, each province in Canada has a provincial regulatory organization (College) that is responsible for the regulation of the practice of OT. It is the responsibility of each provincial regulatory organization to determine what specific registration requirements must be met by an individual in order to remain registered to practice as an occupational therapist within that province. Each of the provincial regulatory organizations have their own set of requirements. These requirements may be different from province to province however; most provinces require that you carry active Professional Liability insurance. If you wish to remain registered to practice, meaning the 12-month discovery period coverage (see previous questions) you will not meet their requirements.
I have left the profession of Occupational Therapy permanently. Do I need to continue to carry Professional Liability insurance?
All of CAOT Professional Liability Insurance policies include a no cost 12-month extended “discovery” period. This means that if you stop practicing Occupational Therapy for any reason and do not renew your professional liability insurance, you are covered for the next 12-months in the event a claim arises for injuries from treatment or services provided prior to the end of the policy period. After this 12-month extended discovery period is completed, you are no longer protected against professional complaints or liability claims unless you again arrange Professional Liability insurance coverage. Policies must be uninterrupted with absolutely no lapse in coverage.
I no longer live in Canada. Is there a need for me to continue to carry Professional Liability insurance?
Claims or complaints can still be filed against you even if you are not living in Canada. If you want to insure against the risk of a claim being filed during your absence, you must keep your insurance current.
I have treated juveniles in the course of my practice. Are there any special considerations?
All provinces/territories in Canada have a “statute of limitations” period during which a claim or complaint can be filed. However, in the case of the treatment of juveniles, this statute begins once they reach the “age of majority” in the province they lived in when you treated them. You need to maintain professional liability coverage for this entire period of time.
What is the difference between Clinic Professional Liability insurance and Composite Mercantile Insurance (Office Package)
Clinic Professional Liability Coverage is for insured members who own Occupational Therapy clinics or insured members who are self-employed and are billing their patients under a trade name. It covers all Occupational Therapists who are full-time employees of the clinic and must be purchased through CAOT by calling 1-800-434-2268. It is still necessary for the practitioners to carry their own Personal Professional Liability insurance. The premium for this coverage is based on the numbers of Occupational Theraspists working in the clinic.
Composite Mercantile Insurance on the other hand covers “Property Insurance”, “Multi-Item Crime Insurance” and “Commercial General Liability”. This insurance is available only to CAOT members with Clinic Professional Liability coverage and is purchased directly through Aon at 1-877-766-3098 or email@example.com
What types of claims/complaints are filed against Occupational Therapists?
A significant number of complaints have been filed before the provincial regulatory bodies. Among the most common are: Professional misconduct, alleged sexual abuse and sexual harassment. Excessive billing, improper behavior or rudeness, and allegations of humiliation are also on the rise.
Inaccurate or inadequate assessment of injury are the most common court cases brought against Occupational Therapists. Aggravated injury/fracture in the shoulder, back, or knee areas continue to play a dominant role in the cases that have occurred.
What steps should be taken to prevent a complaint/claim?
There are several steps you can take to prevent a complaint:
- Keep up-to-date on the regulatory requirements in your province and comply with them. Do not expect your employer or private practice clinic administration to do this for you.
- Keep up-to-date records. This is the most common cause of Error and Omissions claims.
- Review the above “most common complaints” and make sure your practice is not vulnerable.
- If in doubt, call CAOT’s free Legal Service at 1-888-263-8600. Lawyers will answer your questions on sexual abuse, conflicts of interest and dual relationships, custody and access assessments, delegation and supervision, termination of treatment, fee arrangements and other standards of professional conduct issues relating to client services.
- If you think that there is potential for a possible complaint or claim, please contact your insurance broker, Aon, at 1-877-766-3098 as soon as possible. Steps you take in the early stages could help mitigate a potential claim.
The above description was prepared for educational and informational use only. Please refer to the policy for specific conditions, limitations, and exclusions.