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Insurance FAQ

Providing you are a (qualified) social worker member of the AASW, and have not opted out of insurance, qualified members receive Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurance with Berkley Insurance Australia. The policies are arranged by Sear Insurance Brokers.

Please note: the information contained in this insurance FAQ is intended as a guide only. Depending on your context and circumstances you may require specific advice from Sear Insurance Brokers.

The policies and cover

1. The insurance policies cover AASW members who undertake ‘social work activities’, with some heightened risk circumstances exceptions. What does the AASW consider to be ‘social work activities’?

The AASW’s position is that if AASW members are undertaking these activities which use social work theories, skills and knowledge, informed by evidence, then this would reasonably be viewed as social work activities. We have produced a document of suggested steps for you to consider in putting forward an activity as a social work activity.

2. What is the difference between professional indemnity and public liability?

The Public Liability policy arranged covers third party bodily injury and third party property damage as a result of an Occurrence in connection with the social work activity subject to the terms and conditions of the policy.

The Professional Indemnity policy will indemnify the Insured against civil liability for compensation and claimant's costs and expenses in respect of any Claim or Claims first made against the Insured and notified to the Insurer during the Period of Insurance resulting from the conduct of the Professional Services.

3. Can my member coverage under the Master Policy be extended to cover non-social work activities?

No, AASW cannot agree to extend the member cover to any other activity. The cover for you as a member is for social work activities only. You may contact the broker to discuss a separate policy if needed.

4. Does my membership type enable me to access insurance cover (for example, student membership, reduced fee membership, or full membership)?

The insurance policies cover qualified social workers undertaking ‘social work activities.’ All financial members in all fully-qualified social worker AASW membership types can access the insurance cover provided they elect to include insurance cover in their membership if they have paid for that cover.

Student (Qualifying) Members are not eligible to include insurance cover to their membership.

5. If I am employed doesn’t my employer already have insurance for me? Why do I need AASW insurance as well?

If you are an employee, your employer will generally provide protection for you as an individual in the event you are accused of negligence (covered by the Liability policy) or professional negligence (covered by the Professional Indemnity policy). There have however been situations where employers have not stood behind their employees when those employees are accused of a breach of professional duty. Generally, this occurs when the employer accuses the employee of acting outside acceptable guidelines or if the coverage arranged by that employer may not be adequate.


Cover for your practice

6. Do my policies cover my business and employees, for example when a social worker is trading under a business name?

The Master Policy covers social work activity undertaken by member social workers. The policy provides cover for a sole trader, partnership or corporation for up to two social workers (including without limitation any Principals, Employees, volunteers, students or sub-consultants) being responsible for and / or engaged in the provision of social work services for or on behalf of that business. Any person whose responsibilities are limited only to the provision of administration support, secretarial services or any similar office support role shall not be deemed a person responsible for the provision of social work services for the purposes of this Definition. If your legal entity has more than two practising social workers within the business, you may contact Sear Insurance Brokers to discuss your separate business-related policy requirements.

7. Are social workers operating as registered Companies covered by insurance?

Members are eligible to gain Professional Indemnity and Public and Products Liability cover for their personal trading companies in the same way individual members do. Many social workers operating as sole practitioners or contractors do so under a company structure/incorporated entity.

Any incorporated entity with up to two staff members (including but not limited to Principals) responsible for the provision of social work services are covered under this policy, it being agreed that pure administration services associated with the provision of social work shall not be deemed to constitute staff members for the purpose of this Policy. In other words, any purely administrative staff will also be covered under the policy.

If an AASW member who is an incorporated entity has more than two staff members providing social work activities, they are not automatically covered under the policy. Members who have more than one other social work employee and require coverage should contact the broker at their earliest convenience to arrange coverage.


Location and premises

8. Do the insurance policies cover social work activities in any location, such as my own home, the client’s home, or a rented room in a clinic or building?

Coverage applies on a worldwide basis, excluding products not made in or distributed from Australia, excluding products exported to the USA and Canada, and, excluding any claims brought under the jurisdiction of the USA or Canada. Members remain responsible for ensuring areas such as the safety, privacy, and accessibility of their practice venue.

Sear Insurance Brokers have advised that the insurance policy does not include professional and public liability coverage for social work activities undertaken by qualified social workers whilst permanently based overseas or primarily working overseas. While there may be coverage provided in instances in which a qualified social worker is primarily based in Australia and undertakes occasional work overseas, specific advice on this availability should be sought from Sear.

Please note: if you are providing service/s for a program, such as Medicare Australia’s Better Access, program requirements also need to be confirmed with the authority relevant to the provision of services for that program.

9. Does the public liability policy cover me if I sign a commercial lease for a rental property?

Yes, and the policy does not have any restrictions in terms of square metres being rented.

10. If myself and other social workers or other health care workers or registered health practitioners have rooms at a leased property, and insurance is taken out in a company name for the ‘counselling,’ what would be the insurance considerations?

The AASW members cover does not extend to others practising at the property. Each health care worker and health practitioner would need to arrange their own insurance policy.


Products

11. Are members covered if they sell products that are social work related?

The AASW insurance policy provides Product Liability. As such, providing the products sold directly relate to social work then the policy will respond to claims arising out of a product subject to the policy terms and conditions.


Transporting Clients

12. Am I covered by the insurance policy if transporting client/s in my own vehicle?

Cover is not provided in the event that a client is injured while travelling in a car, a registered vehicle, or a vehicle requiring registration. Cover can be accessed through the relevant State or Territory Transport Accident Agency, such as the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) in Victoria.


Claim Reports

13. One of the AASW’s self-regulatory functions is to manage an ethics complaints management process. If I am concerned a complaint may be made against me, should I advise the AASW and the insurance broker?

Yes, the insurance broker Sear requests that you report a possible complaint or claim that may be made against you to Sear, who then manage claim reports and provide advice directly to members.

14. If a social worker whom I have employed at my company acts negligently towards a client in the course of providing professional services, would the claim be made under my name as the financial member of the AASW and holder of the insurance policy?

The members entity will be covered therefore the employee will be covered by the members entity (be that a sole trader, partnership or corporation), providing the operation has no more than two social workers and that any social worker to be covered must be eligible for financial membership of the AASW. On this basis, the onus is on the AASW member who operates the business entity to ensure the probity of their employees or partners.

15. Is there an excess fee if a claim were to be made?

Yes, there is an excess fee of $500.


Resources

The AASW has developed the resource Social Work Activity and Insurance Coverage as suggested reasonable steps in defining a social work activity for the purpose of considering if it is covered under the AASW Master Policy when a member undertakes that activity.

Contact

For enquires relating to the policies or claim reports, please contact Sear Insurance Brokers on 03 9797 2900 during business hours.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers