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Professional Indemnity Insurance for Homeopaths

Written by

Shaun McGowan

As a Homeopath your work begins with collecting detailed information about your clients’ medical history, lifestyle and symptoms, in order to assess their physical condition and ascertain the best treatment for them. This information includes some deeply personal details about factors such as their temperament and personality, lifestyle, eating habits and sleep patterns.

After building a comprehensive profile of a client you devise and prescribe the best treatment and dosage for their unique combination of symptoms and circumstances. At follow up sessions you monitor the impact of the treatment and make adjustments as necessary. Depending on the type of homeopathy you practice you may use a single treatment or a combination of different medicines.

Since you are prescribing medicines there is always a risk that something could go wrong – or that the client could BELIEVE you have made a mistake that has caused them harm. As well as the risk of causing physical damage to a client or making their condition worse, you could also face claims of negligence resulting in financial loss.

Unfortunately, like any other health practitioner, there are many reasons why a client may choose to take legal action against you. They could claim that:

You were negligent in collecting information about their lifestyle and history, resulting in a mistake in your assessment of their physical condition You did not provide the service you advertised (your treatment did not work) Your treatment made their condition worse Your treatment caused them to experience new symptoms You breached their confidentiality by sharing information about them without their permission

Why do Homeopaths need professional indemnity insurance?

The Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA) is the representative professional body for Homeopaths and other natural health practitioners in Australia. As a condition of membership to ANTA you must have professional indemnity insurance of at least $1m. This protects both you and your clients if you make a mistake and cause harm or financial loss to a patient in the course of your work.

Even if you choose not to become a member of ANTA there are lots of reasons why it’s crucial to protect yourself with professional indemnity insurance. Here are some of them:

  • If a patient experiences a worsening of their existing condition or new symptoms after taking your prescribed treatment they may attribute these to you. It may be very difficult to establish whether or not this is justified, especially if they are undergoing homeopathy alongside other treatment modalities.
  • If a client’s condition does not improve as a result of your treatment they may claim that you have not delivered the service you advertised. If you have advised them not to undergo any other types of treatment while pursuing a homeopathic remedy they could even seek to hold you responsible for any negative outcomes that result from the delay in receiving an alternative treatment.
  • In the course of your work you may gather some extremely private and personal information about your clients. You have a very strict duty to keep this information confidential, so if you share it with a third party without the client’s express permission (even by accident) they could sue you for breach of privacy.
  • Like any health practitioner your reputation is a valuable asset. If a client makes a negligence claim against you, even if it is unjustified, it’s vital that you defend that claim, which may be an extremely expensive process.
  • It’s not just your business assets that would be at risk if a client were to sue you for professional negligence. Your personal assets, such as your home, are also on the line.

What does professional indemnity insurance cover?

If a client has an accident at your clinic, or if you accidentally injure someone or damage their property, you will be protected by your public liability insurance. However, if you cause harm (physical or financial) in the course of your work you could face a negligence claim, which will not be covered by public liability insurance.

For this you will need professional indemnity insurance, which covers your legal costs if you have to mount a defence against a negligence claim, as well as any compensation or damages you are required to pay if the claim is upheld (up to the limit in your policy).

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How much is professional indemnity insurance for Homeopaths?

The cost of your professional indemnity insurance will be determined by a number of factors. These include:

  • The annual turnover of your practice
  • How much cover you wish to take out
  • Where you are located (stamp duty varies from state to state)
  • Whether you have made a claim under professional indemnity insurance in the past

If you choose to include additional features in your policy such as automatic reinstatement (so that you will still have insurance cover even after making a claim) this will increase the cost of your insurance.

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Professional indemnity insurance case study

A client visited a Homeopath for treatment of a range of symptoms including anxiety, sleeplessness, shortness of breath and hives. The Homeopath spent over an hour interviewing the client and compiling a detailed personal profile before prescribing a treatment.

During the course of the intake interview the client revealed that she had been having an affair and that she was very worried that her spouse, who was also a patient at the practice, would find out.

A few days later the client’s spouse attended the clinic for a treatment and the Homeopath accidentally pulled up his wife’s file on her database instead of his own. Before the Homeopath realised her error he read some of his wife’s notes on the screen, including the information about her affair. The couple ended up separated and the original client decided to sue the Homeopath for breach of confidentiality. Her claim was upheld and the Homeopath was ordered to pay $14,000 in damages for negligence in her duty to protect her client’s privacy.

The compensation payment plus the Homeopath’s legal costs of $13,500 were covered by her professional indemnity insurance. The excess payable on the claim was just $[xxx].

List of Homeopathy services that need professional indemnity insurance

If you are a Homeopath offering any of the following types of treatment it is extremely important that you protect yourself against negligence claims with professional indemnity insurance, even if you are not a member of ANTA.

  • Auto-isopathy
  • Classical homeopathy
  • Clinical homeopathy
  • Complex homeopathy
  • Homotoxicology
  • Isopathy
  • Pluralistic homeopathy

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About the Author

Shaun McGowan from money.com.au

Shaun

McGowan

Shaun McGowan

Shaun is the founder of Money.com.au and is determined to help people pay as little as possible for financial products. Through education and building world class technology. Previously Shaun co-founded CarLoans.com.au and Lend.

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