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Nutritionist Insurance: Guide Your Patients, Protect Your Practice

Oct 4, 2018 · 7 minutes to read

As a Nutritionist, you have been tasked with offering health advice that will inevitably shape the lives and well being of your patients. It is a very honorable profession and comes with an enormous responsibility. You have gone into this field as a proud medical professional, ready to help make significant health changes for your patients.

And with that duty comes a great deal of risk. Therefore, you have an obligation to yourself and your patients to ensure that you’ve done all you can to protect your practice adequately. The first step to building a successful private practice, with the peace of mind required to help your patients properly, is to obtain Professional Liability Insurance.

Do I Need a Professional Liability Insurance Policy?

If you find yourself in one of the two categories below, then yes! It is time for you to protect yourself with Professional Liability insurance.

  1. You have made the decision to open your own private practice as a Nutritionist, and you require a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of Professional Liability insurance.
  2. You have already started operating as a Nutritionist and rolled out the welcome mat without any reliable form of Professional Liability insurance, or an Error and Omissions (E&O) Policy to protect you from those unexpected and unfortunately inevitable “what if” moments.

If you belong to the first category, the best advice is the simplest advice; Buy your policy EARLY!

Waiting until the last minute is a surefire way to ensure that the worst-case scenario becomes an inevitable scenario. You will want to make sure that you are insured and protected well before the moment you set out that “open for business” sign.

Here’s why:

  1. Having your insurance policy in place before you swing open your doors means that your private practice has been set up with the proper infrastructure from day one.
  2. Having an active Professional Liability policy in place will gift you the peace of mind that if something were ever to happen, no matter how early or how late, you will be protected. If a client filed a lawsuit against you, claiming that perhaps you provided them with inaccurate advice, then this policy would defend you from the liability of paying the costs to defend yourself in court and damages awarded up to the policy limit.

If you belong to the second category and have already been working as a Nutritionist without proper coverage, don’t worry! Professional Liability insurance is what is available.

Now that we have gone over the scenarios in which Professional Liability insurance should be acquired, let’s go over some ins and out about these policies and discuss what it means specifically for a Nutritionist.

Types of Insurance for Nutritionists

For Nutritionists, there are two different forms of liability coverage, each covering a different set of particulars.

1  Professional Liability Insurance (PLI)

PLI is sometimes also referred to as Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) and is most commonly known as Errors & Omissions (E&O) in the United States.

This particular policy is a form of insurance for professionals who offer advice and services to others. Specifically, a Professional Liability policy will protect a Nutritionist from bearing the full costs of a legal defense were a negligence claim to be made for a client. This policy could also cover damages awarded in such a lawsuit. A Professional Liability policy, in short, protects you as the Nutritionist from any liabilities arising due to your precise, professional work.

2. General Liability Insurance

As opposed to PLI, which protects against liabilities resulting from your specific work, General Liability insurance protects you against liabilities occurred from injuries or property damages surrounding circumstances separate from the specifics of your practice. These liabilities could include a patient slipping and falling on a wet floor, or property damage occurred from a leaking pipe.

Within these types of coverage, there are also miscellaneous protections for incidents involving employers, public representation and product liability.

What Does a Professional Liability Insurance Policy Do to Protect Me?

It is in an unfortunate fact of life that in the career of any Nutritionist, there will come a time when the relationship between yourself and another party becomes strained or unprofessional. As your business grows, you will meet a variety of people. Some of these people will push you well outside the bounds of your comfort zone and no matter your skill, effort, and patience, they will never be satisfied with their results. And in some situations, these dissatisfactions can lead to legal consequences.

Professional Liability insurance will be there for your practice, ensuring that the costs and consequences of these inevitable disputes are mitigated.

Professional Liability insurance also ensures that you are covered in a variety of settings. Whether you see your clients in your own office, whether you travel to a patient’s home or whether you work in a facility like a hospital or a rehabilitation center; your policy follows you wherever you go.

Professional Liability insurance typically covers

  1. A Nutritionist can find themselves liable if a patient chokes while they under improper supervision.
  2. A client can take legal action against a Nutritionist if they feel a recommended diet made them ill or resulted in bodily harm.
  3. A Nutritionist can also find himself or herself involved in lawsuits targeted at the facility in which they are employed. For instances, if a patient death at a long-term care facility leads to a lawsuit; this could trickle down to involve the nurses, the doctors, and even the Nutritionists.

General Liability Coverage for Nutritionists

If you are renting a space for your practice, landlords may require you to have General Liability coverage.

This type of insurance offers protection from financial loss due to:

  • Accidents that occur in the office.
  • Accidents that occur outside of the office such as the parking lot, etc.
  • Claims of personal and advertising injury that could arise due to the day-to-day work of promoting your office.

Requirements for Professional Liability insurance

For private practitioners, Professional Liability insurance may be required by law dependent on the area in which your practice exists. If you are not in private practice, Professional Liability insurance is still crucial. As an employee at an entity like a home health agency, you may be covered under your employer’s insurance policy. However, were you to be named in a lawsuit, your personal liability policy would ensure that you have an attorney for representation. You would not have this advantage under your employer’s policy.

Protecting Yourself as a Nutritionist

Owning and operating your own private nutrition practice is no small feat. You have chosen a profession and life-path that shows you are responsible, intelligent and forward thinking. You, therefore, owe it to yourself and the patients depending on you to ensure that your practice is properly protected.

Though understanding and acquiring Professional Liability insurance can sometimes seem like a daunting task, rest assured that there are professionals like yourself ready and able to help you make sense of it all.

If you have any questions, comments, advice or want to share any personal information about your experience dealing with PLI and E&O, please leave your input below.

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