By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
I am often called on to represent massage therapists accused of sexually molesting a client during the course of the massage or for offering sex to an undercover agent. Most often, this type of case comes to us from a complaint filed with the Department of Health, the umbrella agency over the Board of Massage Therapy. Often the complaint is a made-up one or is based on mistaken identity or an incorrect perception on the part of the customer.
The tragic part of this story is that often, the case could be defended and the charges against the massage therapist dismissed, but the massage therapist does not have the money to retain a good, experienced attorney. As a result, the massage therapist must either give up their license or be found guilty, revoked, lose their board certification, and no longer has a job or profession. It is very inexpensive, often less than $100 per year.
That is why we say that all massage therapists absolutely should purchase professional liability insurance that includes coverage to pay for the legal defense of a complaint filed against the massage therapist’s license. Not all professional liability insurance does provide this type of coverage, so you must check and make sure your does.
Professional Liability Insurance with Professional License Defense Coverage is Cheap–Buy It.
Professional liability insurance with professional license defense coverage is very inexpensive for a massage therapist. It often costs less than $200 per year. When you have it, it will pay for a lawyer to defend you right from the very start, when you first find out there may be a complaint against you, even if no lawsuit is filed.
Yet, so often we see a massage therapist falsely accused of a wrong-doing, laid of from their job, without any money, and therefore unable to hire a lawyer to defend themselves. This type of insurance can be invaluable. It can save your license and your career.
If You Have a Policy, Check it for this Type of Coverage.
Even if you have a professional liability insurance policy, it may not contain this type of coverage. Check your policy. Call or write the company to find out if you are not sure. If it does not have professional license defense coverage, sometimes called “State Licensing Board Complaint Coverage” ask if you can purchase a “rider” to your insurance policy that does provide such coverage, even if no law suit is filed. If your company does not offer such coverage at all, then immediately purchase a different policy with a different company.
Employers: Make Your Employees Purchase Insurance Coverage.
If you employee massage therapists or you own a massage establishment, then you should require your employees to purchase such insurance coverage and have your company or establishment included as a “named insured” on the policy. Again, these policies are very inexpensive for the massage therapist to purchase, so you might even consider paying for such insurance if the employee claims they can’t afford it.
Often when a client or customer is thinking about suing a company or a massage therapist, their attorney will tell them to file a complaint with the licensing board. Then the licensing board will do all the investigating needed on the case and will even hire experts to review the case. Later, if the licensing board rules that the massage therapist (or massage establishment) is at fault, the plaintiff’s attorney can use all of that information in a civil law suit against the massage therapist of the employer.
You can prevent this by ensuring that you have legal defense from day one.
There Is Nothing That Prohibits You from Having Two Policies.
If your present insurance policy does not include professional license defense coverage or if it only includes a small amount ($5,000 or $10,000) consider purchasing an additional policy from a different company.
Companies That Offer Professional License Defense Coverage for Massage Therapists.
Following are the names of the professional liability insurance companies that we have been able to find that offer good professional license defense coverage at a low rate as of January 2023:
1. CPH Insurance–In our opinion, the best coverage that is available. It includes “State Licensing Board Defense Coverage” up to $35,000 for defense of a licensing board complaint. Customers can increase this limit to $75,000 for an additional $75 premium, or to a $100,000 limit for a $100 additional premium (which we recommend doing). See https://www.cphins.com/
2. HPSO (Healthcare Providers Service Organization) Insurance–Great coverage at a low price. See https://www.hpso.com/
3. CM&F Group Insurance. See https://www.cmfgroup.com/contact-us/
4. AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) Insurance (but may only provide coverage while you remain a member of this organization). See https://www.amtamassage.org/massage-insurance/overview
5. ProLiability Insurance, powered by AMBA (Association Member Benefits Advisors, LLC). See https://www.proliability.com/professional-liability-insurance/
There may be others out there and if you come across one, please let me know. I am always looking to expand my list.
For more information and ways that The Health Law Firm can help in licensure matters, visit our Video Q&A section or visit our website’s Areas of Practice page.
Contact Health Law Attorneys With Experience Handling Licensing Issues.
If you are applying for a massage therapy, dental, or health care license, have had a license suspended or revoked, or are facing imminent action against your license, it is imperative that you contact an experienced healthcare attorney to assist you in defending your career. Remember, your license is your livelihood, it is not recommended that you attempt to pursue these matters without the assistance of an attorney.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents massage therapists, dentists, nurses, physicians, medical groups, clinics, and other healthcare providers in personal and facility licensing issues.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: PAlexander@TheHealthLawFirm.com or fax them to (407) 331-3030.
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