All practicing registrants must carry professional liability insurance of at least two million dollars per occurrence. Under the Health Professions Act and College Bylaws, regulated members must submit proof of insurance to the College upon request.
Liability insurance has two purposes:
Protecting the Public
Professional liability insurance provides financial compensation for the public in the event of damages caused by a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Nutritionist. Clients need to know they have recourse in the event of harm. Knowing that they can access a professional’s insurance, by way of a claim or lawsuit against a professional’s liability insurance, provides them with a sense of security when they seek treatment.
Protecting the Practitioner
Professional liability insurance protects regulated members from having to pay personally for any harm that clients suffer as a result of the RD’s conduct. If the regulated member does not have insurance and is successfully sued for negligence, they will be personally liable for any damages awarded to the client. Even in the cases where the RD is found not to have been negligent, they will still have to finance the cost of defense. Funding the defense is something else that professional liability insurance will cover.
Frequently Asked Questions about Professional Liability Insurance
Where can Registered Dietitians purchase liability insurance?
Regulated members can purchase professional liability insurance from Westland MyGroup Insurance Broker Ltd. or, if they have purchased a Dietitians of Canada (DC) membership, they may purchase liability insurance through DC.
Why do regulated members need Errors & Omissions Insurance?
Errors and Omissions (E&O), also known as professional liability or malpractice insurance in the health industry, covers liability arising out of negligent acts in rendering, or failing to render, professional services. Professionals are defined as people with special skills, knowledge, or experience. Registered health providers are considered professionals. Other professionals would be lawyers, accountants, engineers, technologists, or architects. If one provides a service or advice based on these special skills, knowledge, or education, then one has exposure to errors and omissions. If one does not have E&O insurance, the defense and settlement costs could bankrupt an individual. The most obvious reason for carrying E&O insurance is to cover the costs associated with legal proceedings and legal representation arising from complaints brought against the individual.
Many health workers are covered under the employer’s insurance. Why would they need their own?
Registered health practitioners often work as employees within the confines of their employer’s property and hours of operation. However, these professionals carry their special set of skills and knowledge wherever they go. Additionally, some may work as a contractor and not as an employee, and they may or may not be covered depending on the company’s errors & omissions policy. Additionally, some professional work—such as working part-time with another company, being self-employed in private practice, or when engaging in volunteer work—would not be covered under employer-provided insurance unless that health practitioner has their own liability insurance. There is very little preventing someone from seeking legal advice or filing a lawsuit or complaint against a professional and it is important for the public and the professional that registered health practitioners carry insurance.
Do RDs need liability insurance if they already have employer-provided insurance?
Registered Dietitians are considered regulated health professionals at all times. If an RD is in private practice or engaged in any dietetic related work (including volunteer) outside of their regular job, then they must have third-party professional liability insurance. For example, if they are covered under their employer’s liability insurance but also consult, volunteer, or counsel others on nutrition outside of their job, including giving gratis advice, they are exposing themself to possible legal action or a complaint. In this case, an RD should protect themself and their clients with liability insurance. Also, many employers’ insurance does not cover legal expenses or criminal defense reimbursement and the health practitioner will be responsible to pay this cost.
What information should RDs obtain from their employers about their coverage?
A Registered Dietitian’s employer should have no objections to sharing information with employees regarding their liability coverage. Dietitians and nutritionists should seek information from their employer’s administration or risk management department. Employers should be providing dietitians and nutritionists with the details of their insurance coverage.
Always ask an employer the following questions to ensure a RD is protected:
- Am I covered under the facility’s policy?
- What is the maximum I am covered for?
- What losses are covered for? Am I covered only for claims and actions for negligence or for criminal and disciplinary proceedings too?
- Are my legal fees covered?
- What, if any, are the exceptions to my coverage?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help a RD determine whether they need any additional coverage.
What is Commercial General Liability insurance?
Commonly thought of as the “slip and fall” coverage, Commercial General Liability insures a business against accidents and injury that might happen on or away from its premises, as well as certain exposures relating to the carrying out of its business operations. Even if a RD’s clients do not visit the premises, this coverage follows the RD and their employees wherever they conduct business.