Professional indemnity insurance FAQs

Professional indemnity insurance covers anyone who provides a professional service who may have claims brought against them by a client. This cover would come into effect should your social work be called into question and/or you are sued for malpractice.

Am I insured?

If you are a current, paid up BASW member* and you are a resident of the UK, you are covered. However, to ensure you are covered for current work, you must be in a working category of membership.

Do I need Professional Indemnity insurance?

Yes. All social work professionals require professional indemnity insurance either provided by their employer or secured independently through providers such as BASW.

May I use my BASW insurance to take legal action against another individual?

No. The professional indemnity cover within BASW membership may only be accessed if a claim is brought against you as an individual.

Will my insurance still be valid if I don’t continue my BASW membership?

No. Professional Indemnity insurance is claims made, which means the insured party is covered when a claim is made against them during the period covered by the policy. Therefore, you will need to have been a member and been insured when you completed the piece of work and still have the same membership paid and up-to-date when any potential legal action is taken against you. A break in membership will invalidate pre-existing cover.

Is my BASW insurance valid ouside of the UK?

Yes and no.

Should the social work be contracted within the UK by a UK-based client, your BASW insurance would be applicable internationally with the exception of North America.

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that all registration and other legal requirements are met whilst working abroad.

The Professional Indemnity insurance would not provide cover for you unless these legal requirements have been met. This includes ensuring you have permission from the relevant authority to practice within their jurisdiction. In the instance that your services are being commissioned from a client who is not UK based, the insurance would not be valid.

Members who are not UK residents are not normally covered. Please contact BASW for specific queries.

Understanding insurance cover when working in the UK legal system

Independent social workers may offer services within the UK legal system including preparing reports and/ or rights of audience in Court. Services may extend to advising legal professionals or clients on rights and cases based on points of law within social work. Should the eligibility to conduct this work specify social worker registration and/ or a qualification in social work then the professional indemnity included within membership would be applicable to these services. Such cover provided for social work is subject to the terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions of the Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy underwritten by Hiscox UK.

In compliance with the BASW Code of Ethics Addendum for Independents, members should only offer services within their areas of  expertise and social work professional competencies.

BASW members may be eligible to offer legal advice (a protected term for the legal profession) should they have a qualification in law. However, the BASW professional indemnity insurance does not cover legal advice and these members will need to seek alternative cover to provide these services.”

Do you have to be a Social Worker to join BASW and access the insurance?

To join BASW and benefit from the insurance as part of membership, you are required to have a social work qualification and work in a social work or social work related role.

Do all social work professionals and/ or independent practitioners require Professional Indemnity insurance?

Yes. Independents, in the vast majority of instances, will need to organise your own cover as any insurance your client may have will unlikely extend to your business activities. Always ensure that you have confirmation of insurance in writing if provided by an associate or client.

How long does the Professional Indemnity cover last?

The professional indemnity insurance cover begins when you join BASW (within a working category) and remains in place as long as you keep your BASW membership current and up to date.

What happens to my professional indemnity insurance cover if I am no longer a member of BASW?

If you resign your BASW membership or it is lapsed, any previous or current work is no longer covered by the BASW Professional Indemnity insurance. 

How do I make an insurance claim?

The insurance policy covers claims made for compensation or damages.

IMPORTANT. If you receive a notification of a claim against you or have reasonable grounds to believe that a claim might be produced, contact BASW immediately even if you do not believe the claim to be justifiable.

Failure to notify promptly could invalidate your cover.

When you do get in touch, provide as much information as possible including individuals involved, circumstances and accurate timeline.

If your claim is accepted, our insurers will arrange legal advice on your behalf. 

  • Please contact us in the first instance as it is unlikely we will be able to reimburse you if you arrange your own legal provider.   Please call 0121 622 8415 or contact us here. 
  • NOTE: The insurance policy covers claims made for compensation or damages.  Should you be subject to a complaint referred to a regulatory body please contact the BASW Advice and Representation department who can support you with this on 0121 6228413 or email


I am in a non-working category of membership, am I still insured?

Should your work be undertaken on an entirely voluntary basis, then your BASW professional indemnity insurance within the non-working category would still be applicable.

If you receive any payment from the work and in a non-working category of membership, then your BASW professional indemnity insurance is invalid. If you are unsure about your membership category, please contact the BASW membership team.

Will I still be insured when I retire?

As long as you maintain your BASW membership up-to-date, your BASW Professional Indemnity insurance will still be valid for work that began after your join date. Please contact the membership team to discuss what member category is right for you.

My practice is not exclusively social work, are these activities still covered?

The insurance may still cover elements of your practice that still require your social work skills, experience and or qualification. Activities that are entirely unrelated to social work will not be covered. Please contact us for specific queries.

Are my business associates also covered by my BASW insurance?

No. Should your business associates also be social workers then they may join BASW individually to access the BASW insurance cover. If they are not social workers, they will need to source cover independently. We strongly recommend that when working with associates either on a single contract or on a long-term arrangement to seek legal advice on how best to proceed.

If you are employing colleagues be it social workers, administrative support or other professionals, you may require employers’ liability insurance. At present BASW does not provide this cover.

Working within a Partnership, Social Enterprise, consortium or other joined arrangement

  • Always seek legal advice when entering a business arrangement with colleagues. Items to discuss and have a written agreement may include (though not exhaustive):
    • Clarity of commitment & responsibilities (business & practice)
    • Liability
    • Insurance
    • Exit strategy

How much can be claimed?

An aggregate claim limit of up to GBP 5,000,000.

This includes any legal costs you may sustain in defending yourself and any legal costs of the claimant that you may be called upon to pay as a result of a judgement against you.

There is a lower limit of £50 000 in respect of any lost or destroyed documents that you are required to replace and which are necessary for the performance of your professional activities.

Is there an excess to make a claim against my BASW Insurance?

The £5000 excess to make an insurance claim is paid by the Association.

Are there VAT implications should I make a claim on my BASW Insurance?

There are VAT implications but these are not met by the BASW member making a viable claim.

Can I have my individual name or business name on the verification of insurance document?

As BASW members are protected under the BASW umbrella policy, it is not possible to add your name or business name to the insurance document. Many clients will accept this document. An accompanying letter can be issued upon request

I’m an Independent, does the BASW Professional Indemnity insurance cover my business?

The BASW Professional Indemnity insurance covers you as an individual and not your business as an entity. Therefore, within your company you are covered for your professional practice. If working with colleagues and/ or if you employ anyone, we strongly recommend seeking independent legal advice on the most appropriate way to insure your practice and business.

What does the professional indemnity cover?

You are covered for any claims made against you and advised to us during the period of insurance arising from:

  • Allegations of negligence or your breach of duty of care.
  • Negligent mis-statements or misrepresentation.
  • Alleged breach of intellectual property rights.
  • Breach of confidence or misuse of any information which is either confidential or subject to statutory restrictions on its use.
  • Defamation.
  • Any other civil liability unless excluded below.

What does the professional indemnity NOT cover?

You are NOT covered against any claim arising out of:

  • Investment advice including the administration of any pension fund or dealing with any stocks or shares.
  • Breach of any tax laws or anti-competition legislation including restraint of trade or anti-trust regulation. 
  • Any liability that you assume under a contract which is greater than your liability would have been at law without such a contract.
  • Any pre-existing problem which you knew about or should have reasonably known about before the insurance started.
  • Deliberate, reckless or dishonest acts.
  • Any liability for employees, which includes any discrimination or harassment of them.
  • Death, injury or disease suffered by anyone unless arising directly from your breach of a duty of care in the performance of your professional activity.
  • The destruction or damage of any property, again unless arising from your breach of duty of care in the performance of a professional activity.
  • The ownership of any vehicle whether used on the land, sea or air. (You will need additional insurance from another provider to cover this).
  • Any valuable documents such as share certificates, cash, or art work are not insured. (You will need additional insurance from another provider to cover this).
  • Any personal liability that you may incur as a director or officer of any company. Any claims arising from the company in which you have a financial executive or managerial interest, unless those claims come from an independent third party and arise from the performance of your professional activity.
  • Pollution or contamination. Transmission of any computer virus. Asbestos risks
  • Claims arising from the sale, manufacture or supply of any product.


*Life members are covered for current work