Malpractice Insurance for Licensed Clinical Social Workers: Occurrence and Claims Made Coverage
There are two categories of malpractice insurance for licensed clinical social workers, i.e., occurrence coverage or claims made coverage. As a general rule, the occurrence coverage form offers superior protection, but it can be somewhat more expensive than the claims made coverage form.
Occurrence coverage protects against complaints and lawsuits as long as the policy is in force when a complaint or lawsuit against an LCSW/LICSW is filed. As long as this condition is met, coverage is not jeopardized if the policy is cancelled or non-renewed and the claim and/or lawsuit are subsequently filed.
Claims made coverage protects against covered complaints and/or lawsuits only when the following two conditions are met: 1) the policy is in force when a complaint is filed (just like the occurrence coverage); and 2) the policy or a renewal of the policy is still in force when the claim is made. The second condition makes the claims made coverage form less comprehensive than the occurrence coverage.
Clinicians that choose claims made coverage who then retire or otherwise end their practice, may elect to buy "tail" coverage which in effect converts their prior claims made policies into an occurrence policy; however, this is usually expensive. Changing a claims made policy to an occurrence policy requires “tail” coverage as well, but may be less expensive over the course of coverage, especially if a claim is filed after the occurrence policy ends.
In summary, the primary advantage of claims made malpractice coverage that the cost is generally less. Claims made insurance only covers the clinician during the time the policy is in effect. The primary advantage of occurrence malpractice coverage is that occurrence coverage is more comprehensive and covers the clinician even after the policy is no longer in effect, even though it may be somewhat more expensive than claims made insurance.
The Clinical Social Work Association does not directly offer a malpractice insurance plan. There are many companies that offer coverage designed specifically for social workers. One such company that offers good occurance based coverage is CPH Insurance. For more information on their plans go to www.cphins.com and click on “Social Worker” to see the malpractice plans available for licensed clinical social workers.