If you’re a massage therapist running your own business, you know there are dozens of things to take care of, aside from clients. Regardless of whether you're just starting out or have been in business for years, all self-employed massage therapists need massage therapy liability insurance. That’s the only thing that will protect you and all your hard work if the unexpected happens.
What is liability insurance?
Liability insurance defends you from a lawsuit stemming from your negligence as a massage therapist. Both your actions OR your inactions can land you in legal hot water.
There are 2 types of liability insurance you should consider.
- Commercial General Liability Insurance
- Professional Liability Insurance
In this article, we are going to focus primarily on professional liability insurance - also known as massage therapy malpractice insurance or massage therapy liability insurance.
Commercial general liability insurance is the slip and fall type of insurance. It covers accidents that happen outside your control. It protects you from things like people slipping on the front sidewalk, a table breaking, or the client fainting and hurting themselves.
Professional liability insurance protects you from a lawsuit due to bodily injury from a treatment. Your first thought might be the idea of you hurting someone during a massage. However, it’s far more likely a massage therapist will end up in legal trouble for their “non-actions” or the actions of others. This might be due to a failure to ask the right questions before treatment - like not asking about contraindications. It could also be due to the result of mistreatment by another practitioner.
For example, your client, Susan, visited her chiropractor right before she came to see you. The chiropractic adjustment she received actually exacerbated a serious condition in her back. When she arrives at your clinic, she’s not yet aware of this yet, but she does know she’s having a flare-up. Susan’s hoping a massage will fix her right up.
You treat her and send her on her way. The next day, Susan is in so much pain she can’t get out of bed. Her doctor says her back was worsened by the manual manipulation, which is contraindicated by her condition. Now, both you and the chiropractor could potentially be held liable. Massage therapy liability insurance protects you in these types of situations.
Why you need massage therapy liability insurance
Because you’re human.
We all make mistakes. Oversights happen, even if only on rare occasions. It only takes one slip up in an otherwise perfect practice to get you in trouble.
It may be unlikely that a client brings a lawsuit against you, but it could happen. Just like any other type of insurance, massage therapy liability insurance protects you and your assets. And if there’s one thing in life that remains consistent, it’s that there’s always something unexpected right around the corner.
In the event that a lawsuit is brought against you, your massage therapy liability insurance will pay for damages. Without it, if you’re held liable, you could be draining your bank accounts to pay for your mistakes. For a relatively low investment, you can prevent that from happening.
Hopefully, you never have to use it, and all it offers you is peace of mind. Either way, it’s more than worth it.
How much does massage therapy liability insurance cost
The cost of massage therapy liability insurance can vary depending on where you purchase it. If you purchase a plan through a traditional insurance company, it may cost less than $100 a year. It could be more, depending on your relationship with the company and what the plan covers.
Alternatively, if you opt to join a massage therapy organization to obtain liability insurance, the cost can be between $80-$235 a year. When you join an organization, you’re not just buying insurance. The insurance is just one of many benefits you get as a member. You may also get free or discounted courses, services and periodicals. Plus you support an organization working to support the massage therapy profession as a whole.
Where to get massage therapy liability insurance
Most professional massage therapy organizations offer liability insurance to their members. This is the most common way massage therapists obtain liability insurance. That’s because being a part of organizations like the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) or Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) come with a whole bundle of benefits, in addition to insurance.
Another option is to contact your insurance provider. The company you already have other insurance plans through may offer professional and commercial liability insurance too. There are also several companies, like LMI Canada Insurance, that have plans specifically for massage therapists. Shop around to find the best plan for you.
Best practices for avoiding a malpractice lawsuit
The best way to avoid a client taking legal action against you is to document everything and take the time to ask questions. If someone comes to see you with an injury you’re not comfortable treating or is a contraindication for treatment, say no. Then, refer them to the appropriate medical professional.
Require every client to fill out intake and consent forms. Create an intake form that lists contraindications for massage therapy. Have clients update their intake forms on an annual basis and when they have a change in their health.
Design your massage therapy treatment plan around the needs of your client, and document the whole process in SOAP Notes. If you don’t have a SOAP Note template, you can download this one for free.
Having signed consent forms and documenting your treatment can protect you if your treatment comes into question. Not only that, but taking the time to do these things helps ensure you don’t make any mistakes along the way.