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This article appeared in issue 112 of the Eighth Line Newsletter, and has been edited for easier viewing on the web. Some of the information in this article may be out of date. Refer to our current static website pages for correct information.

What Is Professional Liability Insurance?

Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) or Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O Insurance) protects you in the event that a patient files a complaint against you with the college and it goes to a hearing. As a health professional, you do your best to meet and exceed the standard of care for your patients, but even at your best things can go wrong. Whether it’s an accidental legislative misstep or a more egregious error, your PLI will help cover costs in the event of a hearing.

Why Do You Need PLI?

You may feel that Professional Liability Insurance is an unnecessary extra step because you adhere to standards and follow the legislation exactly; but even if you didn’t do anything wrong, you may find yourself involved in a
disciplinary hearing and hiring a lawyer can be an unexpected cost that you would then be responsible for paying. If you are found to have engaged in professional misconduct, you would be expected to pay further costs for the hearing itself, as well as any fines associated with the hearing decision. Without PLI, those costs would come out of pocket.

What Does PLI Cover?

Professional Liability Insurance covers you in cases where a patient makes complaints against you for services they believe you did not perform as promised. Most Professional Liability Insurance providers cover accusations of professional negligence, misrepresentation, libel and slander, and inaccurate advice.

Employer Provided or Individual?

Some employers provide Professional Liability Insurance for their employees, but these plans don’t cover you specifically, they only cover you during your employment. If your employment is terminated, you may no longer be eligible for your employer’s PLI, and a hearing can take time to be resolved. It’s in your best interest to purchase individual PLI every year so that you can ensure that you’re protected in the event of accusations of professional negligence or unprofessional conduct.

Who Provides PLI?

There are many insurance providers in Alberta and Canada at large who provide Professional Liability Insurance. One common source for opticians to obtain PLI is by joining the Opticians Association of Canada. The OAC, in
partnership with Western Financial Group, provides PLI for all of its members. Any insurance provider will suffice, as long as you have a minimum of $1,000,000 of Professional Liability Insurance as mandated by the Regulations.