This seems to be something to more and more social workers are asking about. We are seeing an increasing amount of experienced Social Workers making the decision to become agency workers for many different reasons.
As Social Workers we know how important it is to make sure we are protected and as safe as we can be. Some agencies require you as an independent social worker to have some basic insurance to cover you with your day to day work. Often you will need to take out professional indemnity insurance as a minimum requirement.
I am aware of some Agency Social Worker whom have not taken any insurances out. They are normally not aware of the consequences and the long term implications that this could have on them.
I’m going to break down the two most important that you need to consider when becoming an agency social worker;
1) Professional Indemnity
2) Public Liability
1) Professional indemnity
What is professional indemnity insurance?
Professional indemnity insurance in simple terms is about negligence and making sure that you are offered protection. I know that we will all sit there and say ‘I’m not negligent’, but that’s the formal word that is commonly used. Negligence in business can also be done by you making a mistake. It’s triggered by a client in our case service users is they become unhappy/ angry and then they look at different ways of getting back at us.
Professional indemnity is required if you offer advice and guidance to ‘clients’ and if they do not agree what you have said. This is where indemnity insurance helps to protect us.
Do I need professional indemnity insurance?
A number of professionals are legally required to have professional indemnity insurance and yes it is a requirement for Social Workers. If you have a full time contract or work for a local authority you are normally provided with this through your employer. I you are an independent Social Worker you will need to take this out yourself.
Professional Indemnity covers us to make sure that if we even provide inadequate advice it covers all the legal costs and expenses and it would also offer compensation to the client if this is required.
Within Social Work we face negativity and criticism on a daily basis and people are often saying “I’m going to sue you”. How far will someone really take it? We are already in the spotlight and we are often placed with the blame when things are completely out of our control so please make sure you get on top of this.
We can make mistakes; people do breach confidentiality and so on. We can try our best but there are cases when it happens. This will be something that your accountant can discuss further with you.
As well as the above having professional indemnity insurance helps to protect your business from significant financial loss is a mistake is made.
Where should I go to get professional indemnity insurance?
There is a competitive market out there for indemnity insurances. It is usually recommended as a Social Worker you should look for a limit of £5, 000,000. This will cover all the legal fees.
You should also look out for a minimum of £50,000 if there are any lost/ destroyed documentation which is compulsory to replace and is essential for our day to day role.
I did a lot of research into this when looking for the right insurance for my business. You will find that some our generic for professionals and some can tailor just for certain professionals. If you have any questions please contact me to discuss further.
2) Public Liability
What is public liability insurance?
Public Liability is about whether you are working with other people (members of the public or in our case service users). It’s tailored for people who work independently to cover them in-case something happens or if they are injured or if damages are made to their property etc.
A simple example would be a self-employed roofer getting public liability insurance to cover themselves if a tile was to fall off of the roof and land on somebodies car!
Do I need public liability insurance?
This is not a legal requirement for agency social workers. However, it is really important that you consider whether or not you should take this out.
As Social Workers we visit many different people and regularly in their homes too. If we accidentally damaged something at their address or if we are responsible for something that broke we are liable for this and they can take action against us if they want too.
We will not be covered by our agencies and we are responsible for making our own decision on whether we should take this insurance out.
This sounds a bit crazy but I’ve heard a service user reporting that a social worker had knocked to hard on their door and had caused damage to it. It can be as simple as that.
Another colleague accidentally reversed into a brick wall and so on…
Where should I go to get public liability insurance?
As i’ve said public liability insurance is not compulsory however, accidents do happen and unfortunately some people are out there to make money from us in any way that they can and this does happen.
You need to weigh this up for yourself and make your own decision here. Having public liability insurance does protect you further and it will cover any of the legal costs associated with this claim.
Sometimes you can find deals that run alongside taking out Professional Indemnity Insurance with a small additional charge to the monthly payment.
If you have any questions around these insurance or would like me to pass you the details or any providers please don’t hesitate to contact me.