Providing Peace of Mind: Insurance for Mental Health Workers Blog | Providing Peace of Mind: Insurance for Mental Health Workers
Mental Health 07/09/21

Providing Peace of Mind: Insurance for Mental Health Workers

Every health professional needs malpractice insurance to protect themselves if patient care takes a legal turn for any reason. To maintain your ability to continue treating patients and avoid pricey legal fees, mental health workers need to have professional liability, also known as malpractice insurance.

Providing Peace of Mind: Insurance for Mental Health Workers

Mental health professionals need insurance just as much as a surgeon or other medical professional – perhaps even more in certain circumstances. As of 2014, the average mental health malpractice suit costs around $46,000 out of pocket in legal fees and settlement costs. A mental health professional must always remember that clients can make a malpractice claim for virtually any reason and that it generally falls to the court to sort the case out.

Liability insurance is a necessary component of any practicing psychiatrist or psychologist, counselor and even mental health technicians, particularly if you want to have peace of mind no matter what happens. Some of the ways insurance can help you include:

Legal Fees

Most malpractice insurance provides coverage for any legal fees associated with a malpractice claim. This includes paying for a qualified lawyer who can help dismiss a frivolous or unfounded malpractice claim. Malpractice insurance will also pay for settlements up to the policy limit in the insurance plan, which means mental health professionals will not need to be concerned about bankruptcy from a settlement after courts reach a decision.

Less Worry

A malpractice claim can be a stressful thing. Unfortunately, even if the claim is frivolous, you will still need to go through the steps of the legal system before you can resume your job without the lawsuit hanging over your head. Malpractice insurance ultimately means you will need to worry less about the worst-case scenario if a client sues you.

State Mandate

In some states, mental health professionals are required by law to have malpractice insurance to continue practicing as a therapist. The state mandate is designed to protect your interests and your clients so that, if a claim against you is made, you and your client will have the resources to reach a reasonable settlement or conclusion to the case.

Licensing Board Complaints

Your malpractice insurance may also assist with representing you in front of your state’s licensing board. Depending on your case, your license to practice as a mental health professional may be compromised by a malpractice claim. Anyone can make a complaint to the licensing board for any reason. Your insurance policy may provide resources or legal representation to face the licensing board and pay for helping reinstate your license.

When Might Your Malpractice Insurance Be Used?

As a practicing mental health professional, liability insurance is necessary to give you protection in the event legal action is taken against you. But when would legal action be taken? Most therapists seek to maintain their ethical obligations and would never willingly do harm to a client – however, malpractice insurance exists because the truth of certain events can be subjective. Some scenarios where malpractice insurance may be necessary include:

Failure to Mandatory Report

Mental health professionals are mandatory reporters, which means they are ethically and legally obligated to report violent or potentially harmful events to the proper authorities when they learn about them. For example, therapists are bound to report cases of suspected child abuse, elderly abuse, and sexual abuse against vulnerable people. Failure to report these events can mean a malpractice lawsuit if that failure leads to the harm of other people.

Failure to Protect Client

If your client expresses thoughts of self-harm or suicide, then you are obligated to intervene for the client’s safety. This can mean contacting the client’s emergency contact or emergency first responders or making recommendations to the client’s caregivers. The relatives of clients who successfully self-harm may sue the client’s therapist if they feel adequate preventative action was not taken.

Boundary Crossing

The ethics of mental health work draw firm boundaries between the therapist and the client. However, if a therapist crosses professional boundaries by sharing too much of their personal life or developing a more personal relationship with a client, then the therapist may be accused of malpractice.

Falling Short of Standard of Care

Mental health professionals are expected to provide each client with a basic standard of care. This refers to the therapists’ ability to utilize tools and practices that are acknowledged to be helpful for the client. Failure to provide a basic standard of care that results in harm to the client is a common reason to be accused of malpractice. Not complying with the standard of care may come from having too many clients or other circumstances that do not allow the client to receive the best possible care. This includes failure to refer if patient care reaches a point beyond the scope of the treating professional.

Malpractice insurance is necessary to have peace of mind and cover you in the case of lawsuits from clients. NOW Insurance provides insurance to mental health professionals that’s simple, fast and affordable.

Get a quote today in under three minutes with our simple online application.

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