As dietitians continue to venture into conventional and unconventional careers, navigating liability insurance can seem overwhelming. Whether you’re running a private practice, providing services as an independent contractor, seeing patients at a hospital, or working as a full-time food blogger – your work may put you at risk for liability. To help minimize this risk, purchasing insurance should be at the top of your to-do list.
In this article, we will dive into the different types of liability insurance for dietitians and how to make sure you’re selecting the right coverage for your business.
As with all articles, we are only providing general information and not legal advice. Please check with your attorney for the business insurance that is right for you.
What is liability insurance?
Liability insurance is often used as a catch-all term that refers to several types of insurance policies for businesses. These policies can help protect your business in situations where someone has claimed your business caused an injury, damage, or loss. The policies may also cover legal fees associated with covered claims.
Dietitians that are self-employed should consider insurance policies that cover their business needs. Even if you have an LLC, you still may want to have liability insurance to protect yourself and your business assets.
While dietitians that work for an employer may be covered under the employer’s insurance policy, there are situations where you may want to also ensure you have your own policy as well.
Working with a lawyer can help you determine your insurance needs specific to your situation
Types of Liability Insurance for Dietitians
The type of liability insurance a dietitian should purchase depends on various factors. These include but are not limited to…
- Personal circumstances
- Whether you are self-employed or an employee
- Whether you offer additional services besides nutrition counseling
- The amount of risk that you’re willing to take
- Whether you supervise staff members
- If you sell products
- Other unique situations
The most common types of liability insurance for dietitians include the following:
Professional Liability Insurance
Professional liability insurance is sometimes called errors and omissions coverage or E&O insurance, or Malpractice insurance. This is the most common type of insurance that most RDs seek out, as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes the policy offered by ProLiability (Mercer).
This type of policy may provide coverage if you were to perform your services negligently, make a mistake, omit a critical element of providing medical nutrition therapy, or fail to refer a client to a primary care physician.
This type of liability insurance for dietitians may also cover virtual services and uninsured losses, such as those caused by acts of God or terrorism.
Lastly, professional liability insurance can cover the costs of defending yourself against lawsuits from patients, families, and other healthcare providers related to the client’s care.
Within the realm of professional liability insurance, you can find a few different types of coverage:
- The most common type of professional liability insurance for dietitians is indemnity insurance. Indemnity policies typically cover lawsuits that are related to the scope of your job. They do not, however, cover lawsuits related to your own personal conduct.
- Another common type of professional liability insurance for dietitians is called ancillary coverage. Ancillary policies may pay for defense costs arising from any lawsuit brought against you if you provide advice or care outside your scope as a dietitian. Ancillary coverage may also cover costs for defending against suits related to non-medical services.
Media Liability Insurance
Media liability insurance is actually another form of professional liability insurance (a type of E&O protection).
If you create and disseminate content as a dietitian – for example, writing blog articles, doing broadcast media, or posting social media content – you should consider this type of policy. These policies may protect you in claims such as disparagement, libel, infringement, plagiarism, and invasion of privacy.
It’s important to call this E&O policy out separately, as traditional professional RD policies may not include this. For example, some professional liability policies for dietitians offer a non-patient care endorsement, but even such endorsements may have exclusions related to full-time writing or consulting with food or supplement brands. It’s important to investigate what your traditional dietitian policy covers, and where coverage may be lacking that requires the addition of media liability.
Each media insurance policy varies in its specific endorsements and exclusions; it’s important to have a lawyer review a policy to ensure it fits your needs.
Cyber Liability Insurance
Cyber liability insurance helps protect your company from the risks of conducting business over the internet. For example, this may provide support against data breaches, cyberattacks, and invasion of privacy. While many assume this is limited to financial transactions, it could also be related to your email marketing activities or a breach of the data your store about your patients or clients.
This type of coverage may pay for a response and recovery, and may also provide business interruption coverage in the event of a cyber-related issue.
General Liability Insurance
General liability insurance is sometimes called Commercial General Liability (CGL). This type of policy covers claims arising out of bodily injury, property damage, or personal and advertising injury while you’re engaged in your profession as a dietitian. Additionally, general liability insurance can protect you from reputational harm such as libel and slander.
Additional Types of Insurance
Other types of liability insurance for dietitians to consider include:
- A business owner’s policy combines commercial property insurance with general liability coverage. It’s usually the most cost-effective insurance policy for a dietitian. A business owner’s policy covers personal injury lawsuits, business property damage and theft, and claims due to business interruption.
- Workers’ compensation insurance is a type of employer liability insurance. It provides your employees with benefits if they get sick or injured while working on behalf of your dietitian practice.
- You may have to secure Product Liability Insurance if you offer products within your business. Product Liability Insurance protects you from claims alleging property damage or bodily injury due to a product you sell, distribute, or manufacture. Product Liability Insurance could cover medical fees and legal expenses related to any injuries caused by the products offered.
Tips for Looking at Insurance Policies
As you read through the different types of insurance policies above, take notes on which may be relevant to your business. Then, consider the following questions which will be helpful as you start getting quotes:
- Will the policy provide me with enough coverage, or do I need supplemental insurance?
- Will I have nationwide or worldwide coverage?
- What are the requirements for each policy?
- Does the policy cover both in-person and virtual appointments?
- What is the deductible?
- Are there limits on claims paid and/or total claims filed per year?
- Does the policy include additional expenses such as medical bills and attorney fees
- What is the cost of the plan and payment options?
Where to Get Liability Insurance
Here are a few insurance companies that provide the policies we have described. Keep in mind each company varies in their policy provisions and exclusions.
- Proliability – professional liability insurance
- Healthcare Provider Service Organization (HPSO) – professional liability insurance
- The Hartford – general liability insurance, business owner’s policy, EPLI
- Pro-sight Specialty- malpractice liability insurance
- Hiscox- malpractice liability insurance
- CM & F Group – malpractice liability insurance
- Insureon – general liability insurance, property insurance, malpractice insurance and business owner’s insurance
- Lockton Affinity – professional liability insurance
- Insurance Canopy- general and professional liability insurance
- Now Insurance – general and professional liability insurance
- Cover Wallet – general and professional liability insurance
- Dinghy Freelancers Union Writer Insurance – professional liability insurance for writers
- CFC – Media liability insurance
Be sure to thoroughly read all the information and exclusions of your potential policy before purchasing and consult a knowledgeable insurance broker or lawyer if you need help understanding the coverage.
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The Bottom Line
As a dietitian, it’s essential to be aware of the different types of liability insurance available and how to select the right coverage for your business. When you carry the right liability insurance policy, you provide your clients with proof that you not only care about your business but also that you also care about them. Additionally, you’ll enjoy peace of mind in conducting your services.