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Understanding the Liability Insurance Requirement

All regulated members are required to personally hold professional liability insurance in the amount of $5 million to ensure coverage wherever they practice as a physiotherapist in Alberta, regardless of role or employment environment.

Members typically purchase insurance from BMS (through the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA)), PhysioSure or Renfrew so we’ve provided a few different scenarios using broker’s policy terms to help you better understand the insurance requirement.

#1. You must have continuous coverage. While you are a regulated member it is your responsibility to ensure you have continuous coverage. Here are a few scenarios:

  • Your PhysioSure policy expires July 1 at 12:00 a.m. and you’ve renewed your policy so it is effective July 1 at 12:01 a.m. Great, you are meeting the registration requirement for continuous coverage.
  • Your PhysioSure policy expires July 1 at 12:00 and you know you will not be renewing your practice permit when it expires September 30. Do you need to renew your insurance policy? The answer is yes as you need insurance coverage from July 1 (12:01) to midnight September 30.
  • You purchased your current policy from PhysioSure and it expires July 1, 2017. You now want to purchase insurance through CPA. Can you wait and only purchase insurance for their next policy period which starts October 1, 2017. The answer is no. You may change providers but need to purchase insurance covering the period July 1 (12:01) to midnight September 30.

#2. You must have insurance in place effective October 1 and beyond before renewing your practice permit.

  • You purchase insurance through CPA or from Renfrew and your policy expires midnight on September 30. You plan to renew your insurance policy before it expires so why does the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta require that you renew your policy before renewing your practice permit? Before approving your renewal application, we need to ensure you’ve met the registration requirements for the effective date of your practice permit which is October 1. For insurance, this means you have coverage in place October 1 and beyond.

#3. The requirement to have insurance while on leave from practice depends on whether you remain registered or not. For example:

  • You are currently on leave and won’t be returning to practice until December. Can you renew your practice permit now and then wait until December to purchase insurance? The answer is no. The requirement to hold liability insurance is linked to registration and not whether you are practicing. So, if you maintain your registration while on leave, and are therefore a regulated member, you must have continuous insurance coverage.
  • You are going on leave and won’t be renewing your practice permit after September 30. Do you still need to purchase insurance that extends beyond September 30? This is a two-part answer. From a registration perspective, when you are not a regulated member, the requirement to hold insurance does not apply so the answer is no. However, patients can file a malpractice claim against you up to ten years after an incident. You need to check the terms of your insurance policy. Ensure that your insurance will cover you for a claim filed at a later date related to an event that occurred while you were practicing and insured. Some policies provide coverage against this type of claim, sometimes referred to as “tail coverage” or “extended reporting period coverage,” while other policies may require that you purchase additional coverage when leaving/retiring from practice.

If you have a question about professional liability insurance not covered by the scenarios above, contact the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta at info@cpta.ab.ca or 780-438-0338.

Page updated: 20/04/2022