fbpx

General Facts About General Liability

Avoiding Malpractice: Tips for Social Workers to Manage Risk

General Facts About General Liability

General Liability insurance is important for you to own. Even if you have no office, or your employer already has a General Liability insurance policy. If you perform your services in any venue, there is a risk that your client will suffer a property loss like a stolen wallet for example and blame you. That can be your responsibility. Why? We’ll get into that shortly.

The traditionally accepted definition of General Liability insurance is that it covers the insured for negligent acts and/or omissions, or acts during general operation of the business, that result in property damage and/or bodily injury while on the business premises. Few General Liability insurance policies (but most do not), extend the “premises” to cover venues outside of the walls of the business premises, because frequently Allied Health workers perform services in a variety of locations outside of the practitioner’s office such as parks, pools, hotel meeting facilities, fitness centers, and home care facilities and household venues for example. The property damage element refers to the loss or damage to the client as well as bodily injuries.

General Liability insurance is physical and more generic as compared to Professional Liability insurance which is specific to professional practice activities with greater than average expertise in particular occupational areas. General Liability shields the insured from the broader and “physical in nature” risks such as:

  • Bodily injury
  • 3rd party property damage or loss
  • Personal injuries and damages
  • Lawsuit legal costs
  • Medical expenses for injured parties

Recently one of our NASWRRG insureds, a psychologist, was sued by a client whose child was in the insured’s waiting room and reached to pat the insured’s dog. The dog was not involved in therapy treatment services and was only in the office on that rare occasion because on that particular day, the insured did not want to pay for a dog sitter elsewhere. The dog bit the child on the lip and inflicted significant facial injury. Because the child was not a client receiving services from the insured, (his mother was the client), the Professional Liability policy was not able to cover the claim. However, the insured’s General Liability policy responded to the claim and paid the $11,000 in bodily injury damages and legal fees. In point of fact, and more importantly for you, if this incident had occurred outside of the insured’s office, virtually all General Liability policies, except for the NASWRRG General Liability policy, would have denied coverage.

So you may ask “Tell me more about General Liability because now I believe that I better buy a policy.”

According to IRMI, the International Risk Management Institute, 80% of the General Liability policies sold to Allied Health practitioners have the following industry characteristics. Here is the industry compared to the NASWRRG General Liability policy:

IndustryNASWRRG
$1,000,000/$2,000,000 limits $1,000,000/$3,000,000 limits
$500 to $600 annual premiumAbout half the annual premium
Price based on number of offices,
square footage, number of workers,
flat rate zip code, and foot traffic
Not applicable; unlimited offices,
any & all states, flat rate
Fire liability limited to 1 incident with
$600,000 limit
No limit on fire liability incidents
$1,000,000 fire limit
Deductibles, many are $2,000No deductibles
Coverage only for physical office Coverage for all practice venues

You may ask, “Why is the NASWRRG General Liability policy so inexpensive and has more benefits?” Because the NASWRRG passes on the sales agent commissions directly to you in the form of lower premiums and more benefits, as a policyholder, and therefore as an owner of the NASWRRG insurance company. The profits go back to you, not to a Wall Street stockholder.

The next time that you get a quote for any insurance policy from another carrier or insurance broker, ask them what the broker commission is that is baked into your insurance premium quote. Most insurance brokers pocket a commission from 12% to 30% of the premium that you pay for.

There is no doubt that your profession is a noble profession with implicit values of service, integrity, and clinical competence. To continue with this effort, you must thoroughly read the proposed insurance policies to assess the gaps that exist in coverage.

Published August 2019

Resources and References