Am I insured when using a defibrillator?

Regarding use of automatic defibrillators, if they are used in relation to the profession of physiotherapy then the physiotherapist using the defibrillator is insured.

e.g. If used in a cardiac rehab unit, where the risk would be high then the physiotherapist is insured.

If used in general like in a shopping centre or other public place, then the physiotherapist would not be insured, as the defibrillator is not being used in relation to physiotherapy.

[February 2009]

Are there different insurance requirements for trading as a partnership, a limited company and a sole trader?

Whilst some insurance requirements remain the same no matter how your business is structured, when your business becomes a legal entity in its own right (as in the case of individuals who trade as a limited company), or you become a partnership, then your insurance arrangements can change. Here is a summary of how:

Limited company

A limited company is a separate legal entity. This means that, among other things, you need to think in terms of does it need its own professional Indemnity Insurance? The PI insurance included as part of your CSP and / or Physio First membership covers you, as an individual not a limited company, thus making it liable for the negligent acts of its employees (including you) through a legal principle known as vicarious liability. Therefore, additional liability insurance should be bought to cover the limited company liaibility and all other insurance contracts need to be with the company and not with the principle / shareholders / directors.


If all partners are CSP members then there is no problem regarding professional Indemnity Insurance. All other insurance requirements remain the same though. For the sake of completeness, a partnership is not a separate legal entity like a limited company. Again all insurance contracts need to be with each partner and not just with one or two.

Sole trader

Here there are two additional considerations:

1) If you work on your own with no employees and no assistants then usual insurance requirements apply.

2) If you are a sole principle but you have employees or sub-contracting associate physiotherapists working with you, then you need to look carefully at the situation to make sure that you are adequately insured to cover claims against you or claims by others resulting from their actions or omissions.

If you have employees then you need to ensure that you have the following cover:

a) Employers liability

b) Full public liability 


[February 2009]

Does membership of Physio First include further insurance cover?

Yes, currently membership of Physio First includes top up professional liability insurance cover of up of £5 million.  As memberhsip of the CSP also has this additional cover, members of both Physio First and the CSP have a total professional liaibility cover of £10 million. This insurance is administered through Graybrook Insurance and for full details of the cover and its limitations please click here


Does my insurance cover me for student placements?

This all depends on the details of your employers and public liability cover so please check with your insurance provider as to whether you are covered or not. If you do not have employers and public liability cover then you will not be insured for student placements/work experience. Physio First has an arrangement in place with Towergate Professional Risks to be able to provide this sort of cover to limited companies. If Towergate Professional Risks insure the practice then they are covered for work experience.

Towergates contact number is 0330 123 5048


[November 2012]

How do I make a claim on my insurance policy, and what should I look out for if something happens?

Making an insurance claim can be stressful, particularly as it is always the time when you find out the value of the insurance policy you have purchased.

Most insurers no longer need claim forms to be completed as they have 24-hour helplines to collate the information on a claim. I would, however, suggest that, before you phone a helpline with the details of a claim, you write down what you want to say to help you to remember the salient points and save any confusion either during the call, or later.

When you call the helpline you will need to know:

When the claim occurred

Provide a summary of what actually happened

Provide details of the cost to you of the damage done

On the last point, please note that the insurer (or broker if they provide a service that helps you with a claim) will only want an initial view from you as they will either arrange for a professional loss adjuster to visit or may arrange to send in tradesmen or repairers or new equipment to put right the loss. They may alternatively ask you to get some quotes for this.

Most insurers try to handle this aspect as nicely as possible as it is your response to this after-sales-service that may be the determinant as to whether you buy insurance from them again or whether you recommend them in future.

When making a claim, I would not recommend that you actually proceed with replacing an item or commencing with repairs until you have been instructed by the insurance company to do so. Insurers nowadays tend to prefer to use a network of supply companies who are often able to obtain replacement items faster and more cheaply than you could. The bills tend to be settled directly with the insurer and if there is a problem after the claim, then the warranty provided by the supplier is guaranteed by the insurer.

If, following the claim, there is emergency work that needs to be done then it is advisable that you use the insurers emergency suppliers for the reasons given above. They have been vetted by the insurers and do have written legal agreements with insurers guaranteeing the work done. In addition, these suppliers often guarantee a preferential minimum call out time of 24 hours depending on the nature of the emergency work.

When considering the need to make a claim it is wise to consider the effects it could have on your future insurance premiums. It is difficult to be prescriptive however in general insurers look at the claims history of a policy - how much the policy has paid. If your premium is 250 and they have paid out 2,500 it is safe to say they are not making a profit! Insurers will tend to look at: how long you have been insured with them; the frequency of the claims on your policy; the nature of your claims; whether is there an apparent trend and the cost of the claims. From this they will make an underwriting decision - do they apply a premium loading or not? Do they survey to see if they can lessen the risk of future claims? Can they restrict cover? Or can they apply larger excess?

[February 2009]

Is employers liability insurance necessary?

Some forms of insurance are compulsory by law, for those who employ people in their businesses, employers liability is one of these. The Employers Liability Act 1969 defines an employee as an individual who has entered into, or works under a contract of service or apprenticeship with an employer, whether by way of manual labour, clerical work, or otherwise, whether such contract is expressed or implied, oral or in writing, and they may be full time or part time. Basically then, as soon as you employ somebody, you should purchase employers liability insurance.

Physiotherapists working in the independent sector are often concerned about whether an associate working in their practice would be safely regarded as self-employed by the Inland Revenue. There are a number of indicators that will satisfy the Inland Revenue of an associates status. A qualified accountant should be able to give you full guidance on this area.

[February 2009]

Is it worth taking out legal expenses insurance?

More and more businesses are purchasing some level of legal expenses insurance.

Essentially, this sort of cover is designed to help cover professional fees (e.g. accountant, solicitor or barrister). Often it is tacked onto a policy as an additional benefit for which no additional premium is charged. This is most common in the case of car insurance policies e.g. a legal expenses insurance policy tacked onto a car insurance policy typically covers legal fees of anyone involved in a road traffic accident up to approximately 50,000. These policies may be sold very cheaply because most people involved in an RTA will recover the costs of bringing the case anyway so the actual expense to the insurer is minimal if indeed they amount to anything.

As a business, however, having legal expenses cover means you are able to defend your legal rights and exercise legal remedies, substituting a fixed cost (the insurance premium) for a variable one (the hourly rate of accountants, solicitors, etc).

Legal expenses insurance cover usually extends to litigation covering personal liability, consumer disputes, employment disputes, tax and VAT investigations and with it usually comes a very reassuring free 24-hour helpline. One of the really useful things about these helplines is immediate access to a qualified lawyer. This enables you to get advice when you want it and acting on this early often helps quash any problems before they become entrenched.

The main risks faced by a business include:

  • The risk of an employment dispute and any consequential award of compensation.
  • The risk of contractual dispute with a buyer or supplier.
  • The risk of a criminal prosecution usually associated with a breach of legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act.
  • The risk that the practice will be subjected to an in-depth investigation from the Inland Revenue or H M customs and Excise

Sexual harassment is another area where problems can be encountered. The Employment Appeal Tribunal in London ruled in 1985 that dismissal for pregnancy may not only be unlawful dismissal, it may be sex discrimination or harassment, outlawed by the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act.

Thus, for example, with no cap on an awards limit that an industrial tribunal can make against a business for employment disputes alleging race, sex or disability discrimination, and an increased 50,000 limit proposed for others, the stakes have become higher.

Another significant factor is the fact that there have been some fundamental changes to the way in which the legal profession work that can make defending a claim more painful for the defendant than the claimant. Essentially a claimant can opt to utilise the services of a lawyer on a conditional fee basis, commonly known as no win, no fee agreement. Thus, without a legal expenses policy in place, the only one actually paying for legal services on an hourly rate could be the defendant!

[February 2009]

What are the requirements regarding buildings insurance?

Requirements obviously vary depending upon the trading premises. If the property is a freehold premises (i.e. you own it) with a mortgage then you have to have adequate buildings insurance cover as the mortgage lender will demand it. Even if you dont have a mortgage, could you afford to lose the property in a fire or have to repair subsidence damage?

Buildings insurance can be something of a vexed question when it comes to Physio First members who trade from home. The answer is always to let your home building insurance provider know that you are doing so and demand a letter from them to confirm their acknowledgment of this information and the cover they are providing.

Essentially, any contract of insurance is described, even by lawyers, as being one of utmost good faith. This means that if anything is hidden from the insurer, they can void the policy so always be open with your insurer.

Often, in the case of running a business from home, an insurer will cover buildings insurance for the same premium but be aware that some will charge more. If you do not inform them, however, any subsequent claim could lead to problems! Also, be careful about changing buildings insurers as disputes can often arise about damage, such as subsidence, with queries such as who was covering it at the time of the damage?

[February 2009]

What are the requirements regarding equipment, property insurance, loss of profits and key man insurance?

Equipment and property insurance is similar in domestic terms to contents insurance. Whether you need this or not will depend on how you calculate being able to do without, and your ability to replace any particular item or piece of equipment that is stolen or damaged. You also need to consider your ability to re-decorate in the face of fires or flooding.

Loss of profit and key man insurance: The necessity for this type of policy depends upon how well you feel you would cope, financially, with a period of sickness that prevents you from working. It is certainly worth consideration if only to appraise yourself of the options available.  


[December 2012]

What insurance issues are there in working from home?

When operating your practice from your home it is quite easy to overlook the importance of arranging the correct insurance cover. Many household policies will not provide cover if a business operates from the residence, even if the business contents are insured elsewhere. You should always check with your insurer if your household contents policy is valid if you are operating a business from your home.

When working from home your CSP membership would cover your public liability whilst you practice. If people come to your home to see you for business purposes, then your household public liability section of your policy would not normally provide you with the premises liability cover you require. Insurers have realised this and have brought out specialist policies for people who work from home. It is generally a package policy with set covers and limits. A down side of this is that duplication in cover can occur. Also, because the limits are set at a level to form the packages of cover you purchase, they may not be high enough for the business equipment you own and they may not be big enough for the equipment you take away from your premises.

As with your household contents policy, your household buildings policy may also be invalid if you work from your home. If your practice operates from an extension, or a building on your property, then the whole building may need to be insured under a commercial insurance policy rather than your standard household contents policy, as this may not cover business ventures.

Finally, remember, your CSP professional indemnity only covers professional liability to the extent of your scope of practice as a chartered physiotherapist. So if you undertake treatments outside of the defined CSP scope of practice you will need to look at your professional indemnity insurance.

[February 2009]

What is public liability insurance?

This is that part of an insurance policy that covers you and your business (if the business is more than just you) from a claim made against you for something that is not a professional issue. In other words if a patient were to fall over something of yours on their way into your practice or while in there, then this policy would cover any claim that they may make against you. In fact it is this that is one of the principle reasons for buying practice insurance at all!

The cost of public liability insurance when purchased as a stand-alone policy is often substantially higher that the cost when included as part of a single package of insurances for the practice.

It should be noted that the CSP professional indemnity policy does provide some protection here but also that it is limited as follows:

It provides Legal Liability cover for an injury sustained by a person not in your employ, or damage to property not in your care occurring whilst you are conducting the practice of the profession of physiotherapy (but not arising from defects in premises you own or occupy) arising from your negligence. If you carry out any other business activities that are not part of the CSPs scope of practice then no cover is provided. This is how the CSPs professional affairs paper PA32 defines the cover provided within your membership.

If you have visitors to your practice who are there to repair equipment or sell you goods for instance, and they trip on a piece of ripped carpet that you have failed to repair. Whilst you have been negligent in not repairing the carpet, you would not be practicing physiotherapy on them. This is a premises liability risk, which, as mentioned above, is not included with in the public liability wording described in the CSPs PA32. Most public liability claims are made following defects at premises rather than following a working risk.

It provides no cover at all to non-CSP members who are, for example, partners in a business.

Similarly it provides no cover for the company (if you are trading as a company) even if the only or main shareholder is you.

It only covers CSP members to practice only those types of treatment that are within, what the CSP regard, as your scope of practice.

If you have somebody who is working at your premises, who is not a physiotherapist, but is practicing a complimentary form of care for one of your patients, then there would be no public or professional liability cover under your CSP membership.

In short therefore, if you are a sole trading physiotherapist, who only deals with pure physiotherapy work that you are sure falls within what the CSP call your scope of practice, are without a premises to work from, i.e. you only work at the patients home, or work from a shared practice as a freelance/locum physiotherapist, then you have all the liability cover you need.

If, however, you work from a room at home or separate premises, then you would require further public liability cover to ensure you have the protection you need.

[February 2009]

Why is it a good idea to use an insurance broker?

Choosing to purchase your insurance through a broker comes with a number of additional benefits. Not only do you get the benefit of their knowledge in the insurance sector, but if you choose a specialist broker, you also have the added benefit of their experience and expertise in your particular field. This can be of particular importance for chartered physiotherapists in the independent sector. Understanding and servicing business insurance needs can be perplexing, and this is where brokers can really support and advise you in helping to ensure you and your business have the protection you need; and a policy that will respond when you need it.

To make an informed choice when buying insurance for you or your business (whether physiotherapist related or not), you need to know (or know someone who knows): 

The particular risks associated with your business, 

The types of insurance policies and risk management solutions that are available ranging from critical illness cover and pensions to car insurance if you visit patients at home.

The annual cost, including insurance premium tax (IPT) and any customer service, or adjustment charges

Knowledge of the product you are purchasing

How to ensure that the insurance provider will settle a claim fairly and promptly and how to complain should this not occur

So a Broker is essentially offering all of the above and, of course, a huge saving in time by you not having to do the research yourself.

It also avoids the obvious cost of purchasing the wrong product i.e. if you draw up your own contract without seeking legal advice you never really know if you have done a good job until you have to rely upon it and of course that is the worst time to find out that the choice as not a good one!

Insurance brokers are in business to provide this advice and support, and being heavily regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, they operate under strict guidance to ensure they are helping you to choose a policy that meets you specific needs. 

Physio First have a special relationship with Towergate Insurance, who will be able to give you some guidance. You can contact them on: 
Telephone: 0330 123 5048
Post: Towergate Insurance, Kings Court, London Road, Stevenage SG1 2GA


October 2015

What are the insurance implications of sub-letting a room in my practice?

In relation to this specific question the steps to take are:

1. Contact your own practice insurance broker and tell them what you want to do and ask them if the essential risks are covered?

a. If they are: then ask them to confirm this in writing so that you have evidence that you took the relevant advice and that you acted on it, thus protecting you in the event that anyone should query this at a later date.

b. If not: Then seek a quote for covering the cost of doing so as this may influence your decision as to whether to proceed.

2. The essential risks are:

a. Is whoever coming in a professional e.g. another MCSP; Massage Therapist; Osteopath; Chiropractor. In all cases ask to see a copy of their professional indemnity insurance and satisfy yourself that they are covered by a sufficient indemnity. As a guide the cover that you get through the CSP is 5 million.

b. Does your existing practice insurance cover against third party liability e.g. a patient falls over a brief case that the new comer left out in a dangerous way? Most potential lessors will probably expect you insurance cover to cover them, but if it does not and you require them ot get this cover, then again seek proof of it and satisfy yourself that the appropriate level of insurance has been purchased.

3. Always check with your Insurance Broker as this is their area of expertise and what they earn their commission providing.


[February 2009]