62pc in profession would consider buying cover against claims, study finds More than 60 per cent of social workers would consider buying professional indemnity insurance to cover themselves against claims for compensation by clients, a survey has found. Recent family tragedies in which wives and children have been attacked have raised questions about the professionalism of the social workers handling such cases. The chairwoman of the Social Worker Registration Board, Justina Leung Ngai Mou-yin, said the idea of insurance was proposed after a rise in complaints against social workers and higher public expectations. It would cover claims for such things as bodily injury, including emotional distress, libel and legal representation for social workers. Among the 1,417 who responded to the board's survey, 62 per cent said they would consider buying indemnity insurance. More than half preferred the cheapest of three options: an annual premium of HK$185 with a maximum payout of HK$3 million for any one claim. From October last year to March, the board received 16 complaints against social workers, compared with 12 for the whole of 2004. 'Since the board was established in 1998, the professional status of social workers has been raised in the public's mind. However, their higher expectations may also lead to more complaints. Indemnity insurance, similar to that of other professions like doctors, can help protect social workers,' Mrs Leung said. Nelson Chow Wing-sang, a chair professor of the University of Hong Kong's department of social work and social administration, said a case of domestic violence in 2004 had increased concern about the professionalism of social workers. He believed indemnity insurance could help protect social workers if they were sued as a result of professional blunders. In the domestic violence case, Kim Shuk-ying and her two daughters were stabbed to death in their Tin Shui Wai home by her husband, Li Pak-sum, who killed himself. Social workers were criticised for underestimating the risk facing Kim, who had stayed at the Social Welfare Department's shelter after being repeatedly threatened and assaulted by Li. The board will meet insurance companies on Friday to see whether a plan can be worked out. Mrs Leung said the board did not intend to make it compulsory for social workers to buy the insurance, but it would provide information to those who were interested. The lawmaker representing the social welfare constituency, Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, agreed there was a need for indemnity insurance. But he hoped that non-governmental organisations or the board would pay the premiums.