Professional Liability FAQ

Why do I need professional liability insurance?

Professional liability insurance protects social workers if sued for malpractice. Social workers need protection from legal action due to negligent acts, errors, and omissions on the job and from frivolous lawsuits that can be brought even years later.

Without coverage, you could spend precious time and resources defending yourself, regardless of whether there is any merit to the claim. Professional liability insurance provides you with experienced legal defense and coverage for settlements or damages.

The NASW-Endorsed Professional Liability Insurance Program covers you for other specific risks, including supplemental liability for clients tripping and falling in your private office, and legal counsel for a licensing board complaint or administrative hearing.

Why should I choose NASW coverage for my professional liability insurance?

There are many good reasons to purchase your liability insurance through NASW Assurance Services. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of NASW, our mission is to improve the lives of social workers. NASW Assurance Services manages all aspects of the professional liability program, from making sure that benefits stay current, to meeting the needs of our profession, to keeping program costs low. In fact, through our efforts premium costs have held steady for sixteen years.

Unlike many insurance companies that focus on creating profits for corporate shareholders, our goal is to pay program expenses, then we invest in programs that benefit NASW members and the profession of social work.

Our NASW-Endorsed Professional Liability Insurance Program was designed by social workers with the specific needs of social workers in mind, and with unique benefits that can best protect members. This program provides you with the best possible professional liability insurance at the most competitive rates for the value you receive.

You can have peace of mind knowing that your coverage is provided by an organization that you trust and that cares about you. NASW’s-Endorsed Professional Liability Insurance Program is the ONLY program that includes the advocacy of our association. Members who purchase professional liability insurance through a different organization will not have the support and backing of NASW Assurance Services.

Do I need to be a member of NASW to apply for professional liability insurance or to renew my policy?

Yes, the NASW–Endorsed Professional Liability Insurance Program is only available to NASW members; social workers must be current members of NASW to participate in this program.

There are important reasons for this requirement. There is strength in numbers and your NASW membership allows NASW Assurance Services to manage all aspects of the program, making sure the benefits stay current to meet the needs of our profession and helping to keep costs low. Also, importantly, we are able to advocate on behalf of NASW members in the NASW-Endorsed program if they are unfairly denied coverage or renewal.

Find out more about the benefits of NASW membership.

If I receive liability insurance through my employer/agency/school, do I still need individual coverage?

Social workers covered under the professional liability policy of their employer, agency or school also need their own individual coverage. Employer coverage does not necessarily protect you individually from risk and you may be liable for your own negligence. Employers may require you to reimburse them for damages they pay on your behalf, or their insurance may be inadequate.

Like it or not, large organizations such as schools and agencies may find it necessary to focus on their organizational needs first, and not on the needs of the individual social worker. For example, social workers covered by organizational policies are unlikely to be provided their own defense team to look out for their interests and careers. Your employer may also have the right to consent to settlement rather than defend your interests.

Also, if you leave your employer, it may be questionable whether you would still be covered under their policy. Purchasing your own professional liability insurance means you’ll still be covered, even if you change jobs.

Why did NASW and NASW Assurance Services choose to launch a professional liability insurance program?

NASW Assurance Services launched the new NASW-Endorsed program in September 2012. It includes enhanced benefits at lower costs, with the continued advocacy and oversight of NASW Assurance Services. We’re very excited about this program and are extremely proud to be able to offer this excellent coverage to NASW members.

What benefits and discounts do I have with the new NASW-Endorsed program?

The new NASW-endorsed program offers exceptional benefits at low costs, including:

  • $35,000 Licensing Board Defense Coverage
  • $35,000 Wage Loss and Expense Coverage per policy period/$1,000 per day
  • $25,000 Sexual Misconduct Coverage with defense costs covered in addition to the limit
  • $25,000 Health Information — HIPAA Privacy Coverage
  • $15,000 First Party Assault Coverage
  • $15,000 Emergency First Aid Coverage

NASW members can also benefit from significant discounts, including:

  • 5% for applying online
  • 10% or professionals who complete a CEU risk management course in the past 24 months or the next 12 months
  • 25% for new graduates

What is a “Risk Retention Group” and what does it have to do with the NASW-Endorsed program?

The NASW-Endorsed program is structured as a Risk Retention Group (RRG), which is a liability insurance company created for the benefit of NASW members and owned by its insured members.

There are a number of advantages to the NASW RRG, including:

  • Oversight by a Board of Directors which is comprised of social workers and association insurance experts who always keep members’ interests in mind
  • Fully transparent finances and operations
  • Greater control on how the program is structured, permitting quick improvements

For more details, visit the NASW Risk Retention Group website.

How is NASW Assurance Services able to offer enhanced coverage at discounted rates?

NASW Assurance Services and our partners have created a new program that offers improved coverage, benefits, and access while also providing NASW members with the best possible professional liability insurance at the most competitive rates.

Additionally, our NASW RRG Plan Administrator charges low commission rates, saving our program over a million dollars each year. These are real savings we’re able to pass along to you in the form of better benefits, new discounts, and lower premiums.

How much does professional liability insurance cost?

There are many variables that impact insurance cost, including the amount of liability coverage you choose and whether you work full-time or part-time. NASW Assurance Services works hard to ensure that members are provided with the best possible professional liability insurance at the most competitive rates.

For specific information or to obtain a rate quote online, you can access the online application by visiting the NASW Member Portal website. Or, you may contact the NASW RRG Plan Administrator at 888-278-0038 to speak with a knowledgeable insurance licensed representative.

How does NASW Assurance Services’ management and advocacy benefit policyholders in the new NASW-Endorsed program?

NASW Assurance Services’ staff has done the research and legwork needed to develop a new, high-quality, affordable program. We also manage the program to ensure that members receive excellent, caring customer service.

Importantly, we will advocate on your behalf if you’re unfairly denied coverage or renewal. The management and advocacy efforts of NASW Assurance Services might not always be apparent if you haven’t experienced issues in obtaining coverage or renewal directly through a big insurance company that reports to Wall Street and its corporate shareholders, but it can make a real difference. We also advocate on behalf of NASW member policyholders to prevent premium increases.

NASW Assurance Services also develops and provides in-person and online risk management workshops, tools and resources to help our members reduce their risk from lawsuits. Our Board members also offer risk management workshops at NASW Chapter meetings and other professional conferences.

What kind of customer service will I receive as part of the NASW-Endorsed program?

Our NASW RRG Plan Administrator allows NASW Assurance Services to ensure excellent customer service for all NASW member policyholders:

  • Personal service from knowledgeable, insurance licensed representatives when you have a question or request;
  • State-of-the-art system offering an easy, fast process for applying for and renewing coverage;
  • Real-time online applications with Proof of Coverage Certificate available for immediate download;
  • 24-hour online access to applications, policy documents and legal resources.
  • To get a quote or apply over the phone call 888-278-0038

Is the NASW-Endorsed program financially secure?

Yes, the NASW-Endorsed program is extensively reinsured and financially protected by top, “A” rated reinsurance companies, including Lloyd’s, London and Swiss Re, that go beyond the state insolvency guarantee funds, which are capped well below your policy limits.

The NASW RRG is an insurance company that meets all regulatory requirements of insurance regulators and is registered in all states. It is not self-insurance.

If I have a professional liability legal question or problem, who can help me?

Western Litigation, Inc. is the program’s legal partner and is a Fortune 300 litigation and risk management company. They staff our free Legal and Risk Management Helpline, a benefit of our program that allows you to get confidential legal advice based on your particular circumstances. Utilizing this counseling is not considered as filing a claim, and your confidential conversation will not be shared with anyone else, including the insurance company.

Should a claim arise, NASW member policyholders will have access to Western Litigation’s national panel of lawyers and staff, who provide legal defense, claims management, and general litigation oversight.

I would like to enroll in the NASW-Endorsed program. What should I do?

You must be a member of NASW to take advantage of this great program. And, we’ve made it as easy for an NASW member to enroll.

  • Enroll online. It only takes 5 minutes and you’ll receive a 5% discount by enrolling this way. You’ll only have 4 simple questions to answer. And, when you answer “No” to each of these, you’re covered.
  • Call 888-278-0038 during customer service hours to speak with a knowledgeable insurance licensed representative. You’ll also get the 5% discount this way.
  • To get a quote or apply over the phone call 888-278-0038.

Can I renew my policy online?

Yes. Visit our NASW-Endorsed Professional Liability Program website. You can also manage your policy there as well.

I still have questions – whom should I contact?

If you have additional questions not covered on this website, we have three options to help you:

  1. Call 855-385-2160 to speak with a knowledgeable insurance licensed representative.
  2. Contact NASW Assurance Services by submitting a question using our online form and we’ll respond to you by email.
  3. Call NASW Member Services at 800-742-4089 (Monday thru Friday, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm EST)

Do I really need a professional liability policy since I am an employee and my employer covers me?

Your professional liability insurance policy is for you. You are the designated insured. Your policy is designed for the NASW RRG to shift the many stated risks, or perils, as listed in the policy contract from you to the NASW RRG as the insurance company or carrier. Your employer’s insurance policy may cover you in some circumstances, but not all. The employer’s policy is designed to protect the employer’s interests. Incidents vary widely, and many fall through the cracks of your employer’s insurance coverage. Remember that your employer buys insurance to protect the employer first, and you second, if at all. Malpractice allegations always arise, and you will certainly be named in the complaint. An RRG Professional Liability policy with a first-year annual premium of only about $40, is well worth the cost for your peace of mind.

I am starting my own practice and company, and I may hire contractors and/or employees. What do I do?

Remember that most insurance policies are sold through commission-driven insurance agents. They receive up to 30% of your premium as their sales commission each year, so you are paying too much. Also, many insurance policies require that you pay a deductible. No deductibles are required under any NASW RRG insurance policies.

Buy an NASW RRG Professional Liability policy directly from the NASW RRG. There is no sales agent commission. Ask about adding additional insureds such as employees and contractors. The premium upcharge of $25 is minimal. You can always call the NASW RRG to add additional insureds when you need the coverage. Typically a $1 Million/$3 Million limit is sufficient, especially for small or start-up practices.

An NASW RRG General Liability policy is also highly recommended and is required by your Landlord if you rent an office because it covers you and your entire practice for the major perils. The major perils include liability for slip and fall, bodily injury, personal injury, advertising injury, third party property, and fire legal liability. If you lead sessions or conduct therapy off-site, such as in a rented hotel conference room, or in another area outside of your office, and an attendee, or your client, is a victim of a pocketbook theft, for example, the GL policy covers this third-party loss. The NASW RRG General Liability policy annual premium starts at $159 per year which is about one-third of all other insurance company competitors for the same level of coverage limit of $1 Million/$3 Million.

We also recommend an NASW RRG Cyber policy (CLCS), Cyber Liability Choice Select. This policy protects you from HIPAA imposed punishment, and the premium starts at $59 per year for $5,000 in coverage. Additional coverage up to $25,000 is available too. CLCS covers all of the major cyber liability perils including legal defense, state and federal fines and penalties, damages, computer security breach expert audit, client notification costs, and ID theft subscriptions for victims. A small optional first-party coverage endorsement is available for your administrative employees and contractors. This way you are covered for both first-party and third-party information breach, and truly HIPAA compliant protected.

If I have my own professional liability insurance policy, does that make me more likely to be targeted and named in a lawsuit?

NO. Regardless of coverage, when an incident occurs, the plaintiff’s lawyer will name you in the lawsuit. This is common legal practice, and actually proper, so the plaintiff’s lawyer is not sanctioned for malpractice.

I work for several employers and moon-light. How does that affect my coverage?

Not at all, as long as you buy the NASW Professional Liability insurance policy, because it covers you no matter how many employers you have, and covers you if you own your practice, and covers you as a part-time and/or full-time worker. You are not required to report employers or worksites, and you are covered 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

My license to practice is still valid, but I am not practicing (some are retired, some are taking a career pause) … should I still keep my insurance coverage active?

Yes. Often times you participate in informal discussions with peers and associates, even during voluntary Board meetings. Even if you randomly meet an acquaintance and discuss an undisclosed client, you are at risk when a lawsuit is filed against the acquaintance and the resulting subpoena identifies you in dialogue, and then you are subpoenaed too. And you are probably named in the lawsuit as well. This curbside counsel with advice exchanged pulls you into the case, notwithstanding the existence of a license.