I don’t know if you have noticed, but quite often there are insurance related questions popping up on various Bowen Facebook Groups. Insurance issues can be concerning, and I know I had a few doubts in my own mind, so I decided to have a face to face discussion with one of the leading UK based insurance companies for therapists, Holistic Insurance Services, to ask their expert advice.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Alison Livings, founder of Holistic Insurance Services and here are the questions I posed to her and her answers, which we hope will be of assistance to Bowen Therapists.
The first, and most important point that Alison made was this: Not all insurance policies are the same, so the advice and answers below relate only to therapists who are insured with Holistic Insurance Services in the United Kingdom. It is strongly recommended that you contact your own insurers to check on specific questions you may have regarding your own policy.
Q: Sometimes I carry my equipment in my car. This might be my couch and my laptop. Is my equipment covered by my car insurance or by my Holistic Insurance Services policy?
A: Most car insurers do not cover business equipment. You should check this out with your car insurer. If you find you are not covered by your car insurer we would advise that you take out a Business Equipment Extension with us. Always make sure that your equipment is out of sight in the boot whenever possible, and that the car is locked when unattended. Overnight, if it is not possible to remove the equipment from the vehicle then it must be a locked boot or compartment.
Q: I know this is more to do with car insurance, but would you recommend that a therapist insures their car for business use?
A: Anyone whose job demands they drive their own car for the purposes of their work will need to pay for business car insurance. This is different to a standard policy, which only provides cover for social use and commuting. Don’t be tempted to run the risk of sticking with standard cover. This could lead to your policy being invalidated.
About working in someone’s home:
Q: Here is an imaginary scenario. I am a mobile Bowen therapist, and I went to a client’s home and unfortunately, I accidentally knocked over their valuable crystal glass vase whilst putting my couch up. They want to claim costs from me. Would you cover the cost of the damage?
A: Yes. That would come under Public liability insurance – this is damage to third party property.
About working in your own home:
Q: I have a lot of questions about working from home! Does my insurance cover me to practice from home or only from the clinic that I work in?
A: You are covered to practice both in clinic and at home provided that your home premises are suitable and that your household insurers are aware. While we are on this subject, you need to make sure that your mortgage provider is happy about you working from home, and if you are renting, check out the details on your lease as many do not allow you to work at home.
Q: So, say I have a clinic at home, and my client brings along their child who is going to wait while their parent has their treatment, and the child falls over and hurts themselves. Am I covered if they claim for damages for the child’s injuries?
A: I would not recommend that a therapist allows this situation to happen in the first place. If the client is on the treatment couch then they cannot be supervising their child, and it is not possible or appropriate for you to be supervising the child. If it is unavoidable that a child needs to accompany the parent then it does need to be made clear that the child is their responsibility at all times before the treatment commences. If you were held to be legally responsible for the injury then we would need to look at this under the terms and conditions of the policy.
Q: My third question on this theme is, a client brings along a friend or partner because they can’t drive themselves. The companion is sitting waiting for the client, and trips and falls over the step on the way out. They put in a claim for damages. Am I covered?
A: Provided the companion was there specifically for the purpose of your client having their treatment – this might be that they do not think that they will be up to driving after the treatment or would otherwise find the premises inaccessible. You could be deemed to be legally responsible and therefore the policy would respond.
Q: Finally, my client’s companion accidentally knocks over MY valuable crystal vase – am I covered?
A: No, your belongings would need to be claimed for under your house insurance. This is a very important point – always ensure that your household insurers are aware that you are working from home. If you do not inform them it could potentially void any future claim.
About cover for CPD:
Q: A question that has cropped up is this. Bowen Therapists send off a copy of their certificate to you when they first qualify and are insured for that. What about CPD courses – do you cover those too? For instance, my original certificate was for Bowen Technique but then I did a CPD course on Fascia Bowen. Do you cover me for that too?
A: This depends on individual circumstances, but generally the answer is yes. What you need to do is send in a copy of certificates for additional courses that you do. These are considered as add ons, normally at no extra charge.
About Online Training:
Q: What is your opinion of online training?
A: If you carry out online training as an addition or revision of a modality you have already qualified in, then generally it is fine and we would accept it as CPD. There is no substitute for hands on training and we would not accept an online course on its own.
Q: I have heard horror stories of therapy couches collapsing under the weight of clients. Would I be covered if this happened? I would feel embarrassed about asking them how much they weigh.
A: You need to be aware of the weight limit of your couch. There is cover if the couch breaks but not if the client is above the weight limit for the couch. Also, there would be no recourse to the manufacturer of the couch if the client was over the weight limit for the couch. This is a difficult one, but if you are unsure you would have to ask their weight for their own safety and wellbeing.
About Cloud Based Practice Management Software
Q: I personally hate keeping paper based notes. I have colleagues with heaving, over-stuffed, filing cabinets full of paper, and that is not for me. I use cloud based practice management software. I am aware that one must be very careful choosing practice management software, but that is the subject for another blog. Here is my question. What is your advice from an insurance point of view with regard to using an online system?
A: Firstly, be aware that you must be registered with the ICO if holding any electronic data on your clients. Secondly, the question I would ask you is, does the client give their signed and informed consent to treatment when using the online system?
Me: No, the client does not sign anything, but I do ask them if they consent to receiving treatment and ensure that I tick a box to confirm that they have given consent.
Alison: Ideally, we recommend that the client manually signs a paper document to confirm that they have given their informed consent to the treatment, and the sheet should point out any effects that they might possibly experience after a treatment. For instance, if they might feel achy the next day, or might experience a headache, and need to avoid heat or cold, then you would list things like that, and they would sign to say that this has been explained to them and that they give consent. Signed and informed consent is vital.
Me: So, if I was to get my clients to sign a document as explained above, and then scan it and keep it on the practice management software would that suffice?
Alison: Yes, that would be suitable.
About Selling Products
Q: Bowen Therapists are taught about the beneficial use of Epsom salts for clients, and some other products which may aid certain clients. Where do therapists stand if they sell these products?
A: If you are selling these products to your clients, then it is part of the treatment. They need to be products that you have been taught about using and recommending as part of your training. However, you must always ensure that you point out verbally and in writing that these products are not a substitute for medical advice, and that advice should be sought from a suitably qualified medical practitioner.
Q: On the same subject, what if I wanted to sell the same products to the public via an online shop or on Ebay or Amazon?
A: You would be covered up to £15k turnover. Again, ensure that you point out that this is not a substitute for medical advice.
About Giving Advice and Recommendations
Q: Many therapists gain a lot of knowledge about such things as supplements and exercises that they might want to recommend or suggest to clients. As an example, perhaps a client suffers from night cramps and I feel that they would benefit from a magnesium supplement. Can I recommend this?
A: What you can do is give general healthy eating advice and advice about general wellbeing. What you cannot do is give advice about specific supplements unless you have the necessary qualification, such as being a qualified nutritionist. However, you could suggest that there is some evidence that magnesium might help with night cramps, and that it might be something they would like to further investigate by asking their GP or a suitably qualified practitioner. Under no circumstances can you prescribe or diagnose. If a client is on prescribed medication, then you would not know if a supplement you recommended might interact with that medication; therefore, anyone who is on prescribed medication should always be signposted to their GP first. On that subject, it is important that therapists know the red flags as to when to refer to their GP.
About Leaving the Room
Q: As you know, Bowen Therapists are taught to leave the room for a couple of minutes after a set of moves. Many therapists do this, some do not. The question arises, what if a therapist went out and the client suffered an epileptic fit or a cardiac arrest? What if they fell off the table?
A: During the initial assessment, you would have discovered whether they have a history of these issues. Insurance is there to protect you. If something like this happened it would be an unforeseen incident. It is recognised that Bowen therapists do leave the room. You would be covered. Just to mention at this point, in the case of children under the age of 16, a parent or guardian must always be with the child, and you must never be left alone with the child.
About Giving Taster Sessions
Q: Sometimes therapists attend Health Fairs or events where Bowen therapists go with a chair or couch and give little taster sessions to people on an ad hoc basis. Can you give us any advice or guidance about this situation?
A: It is important that everyone who has a taster session signs a consent form with a disclaimer. Bowen is generally not meant to be mixed with any other therapy, and it is possible that the people having a taster with you will be doing a circuit having all sorts of other tasters. This could make them feel unwell, or even release unexpected emotions. This needs to be pointed out on the disclaimer. The form needs to also ask them if they have any medical reasons which might mean they cannot have Bowen.
Thank you Alison:
We are very grateful to Alison from Holistic Insurance Services for her time and answering all my many and varied questions. I am sure that the therapists reading this blog will find this guidance very helpful and I am sure it will clear up some concerns that therapists might have had.
Bowen Therapists – Did I miss any questions? If you have any burning questions or concerns after reading this blog, please do get in touch with us at email@example.com and we will do the best to find the answers.
Did you know there is a great deal of fantastic information and resources for therapists on the BTPA website? BTPA is an independent organisation of Bowen Therapists run by Bowen Therapists. We aim to keep you informed. If you are not currently a member of BTPA then you can find out about the benefits here.
About Holistic Insurance Services:
They have been involved with insuring Complementary Therapists in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland since 1999. Holistic Insurance Services was formed in 2002 to specialise in this field. Over 20,000 therapists from a variety of Associations and disciplines are insured. They pride themselves on their personal service and aim to offer as wide a list of therapies as possible. To contact Holistic Insurance Services directly then you can telephone them on 0345 222 2236 or 01327 354249 or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org
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