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Mediator insurance explained

28/06/2016

Mediator insurance helps mediators look after their own interests, as well as their clients.

It's not easy sorting out other people's problems. Genuinely, is it actually possible to please everyone, all the time?

Neither is it easy imagining a situation where you'd need to call on your mediator insurance. Because that's for when things go wrong, right? And as a mediator, what you're good at is the art of compromise and bringing things to a happy conclusion.

Rock and a hard place

In reality, it's not always that simple. Talks can get heated, accusations get thrown around (other things too, sometimes). And stuck in the middle is you, trying to keep at least two clients satisfied while finding a settlement that everyone agrees on.

Trouble is, if one party thinks they've unfairly been given the rough end of the deal, you could find yourself having to sort out some problems of your own.

And what if a compromise can't be reached? Leaving yourself exposed to allegations that negotiations failed because of something you did (or didn't do) isn't a good idea.

What is a good idea, however, is protecting yourself from financial and reputational damage with some mediator insurance.

What does mediator insurance do?

Truthfully, real-life cases of mediators being successfully sued by their clients for basic incompetence or breach of duty are extremely rare. But that's not to say it can't happen.

It's more common for mediators to be accused of doing something wrong. Examples of this include failing to disclose a conflict of interest or breaching confidentiality.

But even if you're sure a client's loss isn't down to you, it doesn't stop the questions being asked. And, if that happens, you'll need to defend yourself or risk a damaged reputation.

That's why professional bodies such as the College of Mediators recommends professional indemnity insurance. If a client accuses you of negligence, and the claim goes to court, the insurer steps in to cover your defence costs and any damages you're liable for.

Top tips for limiting your risk

It's not all about pleasing your clients though. Exercise some basic self-preservation during your sessions and you'll limit your chances of a claim. As always, it's a good idea to start with the basics:

Let's talk best-case scenarios. Find out early on what it is your clients hope to achieve from mediation. Help them manage their expectations by providing reasonable estimates of potential losses or damages.

Avoid the law. Intentionally or not, your work can touch on legal areas. As long as you remember there's a line drawn between providing legal information and providing legal advice, and you stay on the right side of that line, you'll be OK.

Have your clients sign a contract. Set out your procedural methods and any ground rules to do with confidentiality, payment, communication, etc. It won't necessarily stop claims but at least you'll protect your interests and everyone will know where they stand.

Check your emotions at the door. Anger and stress might cloud your clients' judgement but it shouldn't affect yours. No matter how heated discussions get, choose your words carefully and keep your language neutral.

Confidentiality is key. Check that the room you conduct the sessions in is soundproof and secure. Keep any important documents and/or sensitive information safely locked away. Remember that confidentiality breaches can be internal or external – if in doubt, check with your client before mentioning anything to a third party that could compromise their position.

Take rigorous notes ... then destroy them. This is common practice among mediators and is fine so long as you let your clients know about it beforehand. However, you might want to hold on to your notes a little longer after a case is finished in case you ever have to revisit it.

In essence, don't forget to look after yourself as you look after your clients. You need as much protection as they do.

You can get a quick mediator insurance quote by clicking here. Or speak to one of the team on 0345 222 5391.

Image used under license from Shutterstock.

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