The Top 4 Insurance Policies for ABA Providers

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D (

Daniel Law (The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers)

Dawn Mackey & Jamie Pagliaro (Rethink)

ABA agencies face an array of unique liability risks due to the nature of the services provided, and the settings and clients with which they work.  For example, front-line staff are routinely placed in situations prone to physical injury (e.g., bites, scratches, bruises, and cuts from clients).  Moreover, vehicles present additional risks to the company, especially when staff transport clients to and from school or to community outings.  Finally, ABA agencies face risks related to hiring and retention.  The growing demand for ABA services means agencies sometimes struggle to hire staff at a commensurate pace that ensures adequate training and staff retention.

Given the unique set of risks associated with ABA agencies, Dawn Mackey of Rethink hosted a webinar given by Daniel Law, President of Liberty San Jose – an insurance expert in human service industries – who provided a comprehensive overview of common insurance policies and their function, as they pertain to ABA agencies.  If you own an agency, or plan to start your own, Daniel’s expertise is sure to be an invaluable asset in mitigating risk that could otherwise spell danger for your company.

Before diving into the myriad options of insurance coverage that are possible for your agency, Daniel first recommends that you explore different insurance brokers to find an expert that you can truly trust, and who knows your industry.  You will want this person to give you sound advice on how to minimize the consequences of negative risk by being familiar with the details of each offering and how they pertain to the unique demands of the ABA industry.

Worker’s Comp.

Of all the coverage options available to ABA agencies, the largest cost driver for the ABA industry is Workers’ Compensation, according to Daniel.  He notes that worker’s comp is known as “no fault” coverage, meaning the policy will apply to any injury or disease resulting from employment regardless of the level of training provided by the company to the employee.  Moreover, worker’s comp. is statutory, meaning coverage is the same across carriers. While coverage is the same across carriers, rates can fluctuate significantly based on prior loss history, the size of your agency, and any debits or credits the underwriters are willing to provide. Work Comp is always a function of your payroll, so as you grow, you can expect your premium to grow as well.

Professional Liability Insurance

Since ABA practitioners provide professional services to their clients, professional liability insurance is a must.  Professional liabilities are risks brought about from wrongful acts in the course of providing professional services.  Importantly, Daniel stresses the need to define your services in as broad as terms as possible when crafting the coverage – otherwise you may think you are covered for an incident when you really aren’t.  This is one of the many reasons to find a trustworthy and knowledgeable insurance consultant to guide you through the intricacies of coverage and their implications for your business.

General Liability Insurance

A related type of coverage is known as general liability insurance, which includes coverage for bodily injury and property damage arising out of your operations or those working on your behalf.  General liability insurance also covers personal and advertising injury resulting from false arrests, libel/slander, or information found in IEPs, client records, and blogs.  It is important to note here that general liability covers people who are allegedly harmed by your employees, not the employees themselves.  This includes, for example, the parent or teacher who might accuse a staff member of injuring his/her child.

Automobile Liability Insurance

Given the amount of driving that is involved in many ABA services, Daniel highly recommends a comprehensive automobile liability insurance plan.  Automobile liabilities arise when vehicles enter into your business operations – be they company vehicles or the personal vehicles of your staff. In the unfortunate event that you might need to file an automobile liability claim, it is important to note that the coverage applies on an excess basis.  In other words, your employee’s personal auto insurance plan is often the first to pay for the claim.  If the employee’s plan could not sufficiently cover the damages, the company’s policy would then contribute.

Daniel’s webinar dives much deeper into the intricacies of insurance coverage than was covered above.  For example, he discusses details regarding limits of coverage, insurance requirements of school districts and funding sources as they pertain to your agency, and legal issues related to indemnification and subrogation.  He also discusses many more types of coverage, such as cyber liability, business interruption coverage, and property insurance to name a few.  So if you are looking to start your own agency, or even if your agency is already established, taking an hour out of your day to listen to what Daniel has to say could potentially save your agency millions of dollars down the road.

We want to hear from you!  Tell us your experiences – both good and bad – as they pertain to insurance in the comments below.  And be sure to subscribe to via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiary services, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, bSciStudios and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at [email protected]

The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers is a leading regional broker serving businesses and individuals for 30 years. We provide insurance and risk management solutions for over 10,000 unique clients with total premiums in excess of $100 Million. Our dedicated practice groups focus on industries such as construction, real estate, non-profit, and ABA services.  For more information, visit or email [email protected]

Rethink Behavioral Health provides the tools every behavioral health provider needs to manage their practice and deliver quality ABA treatment effectively & efficiently. Rethink’s easy to use web-based software streamlines client care with sophisticated yet intuitive tools for both clinicians & administrators. For more information, visit

1 Comment on "The Top 4 Insurance Policies for ABA Providers"

  1. This is very helpful Dr. Ward, thank you.

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