December 1, 2022

The New Work-Life Balance and Your Insurance

The social work profession is noble and founded on service, integrity, and clinical expertise. It can be a stressful and dangerous occupation. The nation is grateful for what you do, AND SO ARE WE! Thank you!

How many of you in the post-COVID world continued therapy sessions permanently with remote therapy and perhaps in-person therapy in outdoor venues? Feedback from our policyholders says a lot! This new paradigm is here to stay.

The COVID-spawned paradigm shift of the office workplace to the outdoors and various electronic channels has opened the door to new opportunities for practitioners but with increased risks. Relying on telephonic and online delivery channels and scheduling sessions in multiple venues outside the traditional office minimize session cancellations. This shift has enabled practitioners to practice more efficiently.

As the COVID pandemic dissipated, hybrid workplaces and flexible hours grew in popularity and frequency across most segments. We certainly see many practitioners working in a variety of venues and channels outside of their traditional pre-COVID office and in growing numbers. However, this brilliant opportunity has a risk downside.

While popular, this paradigm shift brings heightened liability and physical risks into your practice. You and your clients are more exposed to a variety of risks. For example, exposing yourself and your client in public brings criminal assault, battery incidents, and personal theft.

PRO-TIP: Check your Professional Liability policy and your General Liability policy to see your coverage for medical, first-aid, and emergency treatment benefits, as well as theft of your client’s property while you are providing professional services. Most insurance carriers exclude this coverage. The Preferra Insurance Company RRG covers these perils.

Conducting remote therapy sessions through various technological channels and even in person through public venues brings increased client records to breach risk. This risk, combined with reliance on digital warehouses, internet service providers, and telecommunications providers, may expose you to the 3rd party records breach liability defined in HIPAA HIGH TECH CFR Part 160 civil and criminal penalties.

PRO-TIP: There are two categories of records breach: 1st party client records breach and 3rd party client records breach. 1st party client records breach when your client records files are burglarized or seen by a burglar, or you lose your client files, or even if you fax client records to the wrong fax telephone number or email client records to the incorrect email address. Your Preferra Insurance Company RRG, formerly NASW Risk Retention Group Professional Liability policy covers you at no additional cost for 1st party client records breach and with no deductible. Most carriers exclude this coverage or charge Endorsement premiums and charge you a deductible.

PRO-TIP: Your Preferra Insurance Company RRG, formerly NASW Risk Retention Group Cyber Liability policy covers you for the 3rd party client records breach perils with no deductible. 3rd party client records breach occurs when your vendor exposes your client records.

For example, a vendor could be a paper records warehouse storing your paper client records and files, a digital warehouse, an internet service provider, and a telecommunications provider. HIPAA HIGH TECH CFR Part 160 holds you accountable for indirect client records breaches that the 3rd party commits. The Preferra Insurance Company RRG, formerly NASW Risk Retention Group, Cyber Liability insurance policy starts at $59 per year for NASW members, and there is no deductible in any of the six plans.

While the COVID pandemic dissipated, flexible hours and hybrid workplace locations and arrangements shall continue as the new paradigm. The convenience of the new work-life balance paradigm means you must examine your Professional Liability, General Liability, and Cyber Liability insurance policies to see if you are protected, what the sub-limits are, and what the deductibles are.