Student practice placements

All student members of the CSP benefit from the CSP PLI scheme when needed for their pre-registration physiotherapy activity. This may be as part of HEI arranged practice placements or individual work experience activity. Where you do your placement might affect what arrangements are in place. Here's our advice to CSP members.


Practice placements and insurance

Practice placements form an essential part of your physiotherapy education. These can take place in a wide range of settings and may include non-patient facing roles as well.

Your higher education institution (HEI) should arrange and/or approve placements that are a formal part of your pre-registration programme and should advise you what insurance provision is in place. You may also choose to do additional practice-based learning or work-experience in your spare time, before you complete your programme,  and in this case both you and your placement provider should ensure that you each have appropriate insurance in place .


You might work in settings that include non-healthcare professionals as part of the team, or settings where there may not be a healthcare professional at all.  However, in all cases where you rely on the CSP PLI scheme to provide your indemnity, you must ensure that a registered health care professional or social worker oversees and approves the placement/experience. For example, where there is only a sports therapist or personal trainer available to supervise you, with no additional oversight provided by a registered healthcare professional, this means your placement/experience would not be covered by the CSP PLI scheme.

The specific policy wording is:

Cover for Clinical Services provided by student members is strictly subject to:

The student’s practice placement being approved and overseen by a Practice Educator who must themselves:

  1. Be a UK registered health care professional or social worker
  2. Hold their own indemnity, either individually or through an employer, for the students under their practice supervision.

Additionally, applicable to placements outside of the United Kingdom only: Each student will be supervised by a Physiotherapist based in the territory and, where local registration requirements exist, is registered to practice physiotherapy.

Employer Liability Insurance

Placement providers are responsible for your safety while on placement and any injuries you may sustain while on placement as a result of their negligence. Employers’ Liability Insurance is a legal requirement and all placement providers should check that they have appropriate cover in place if they wish to offer practice placements.

The Public Liability (PL) component of the CSP PLI scheme will include cover for students working under the supervision of self-employed / sole practitioner physiotherapists, subject to policy terms and conditions. Where members in independent practice are not covered by the CSP PLI scheme they must ensure they have appropriate cover in place before the placement is offered.

Practice placements in the NHS are covered by the NHS Indemnity schemes.

Medical malpractice insurance

How your placement provider covers their liability for any injury you cause your patients while on placement will depend on the placement setting.

You do not need to worry about placements in any UK NHS setting covered by a state-backed indemnity scheme. Other employers should have similar covers in place. Corporate insurance arrangements for the clinical negligence of their staff may include students. If you are undertaking a placement outside of the NHS, you must check with the placement provider that they have appropriate covers in place.

Placements outside of the NHS

Placements at football clubs

You must take special care when undertaking placements with football clubs and should talk this through with your clinical placement co-ordinator. The CSP PLI scheme does not cover claims arising from the treatment of certain levels of male professional footballer. We understand that many clubs have their own medical malpractice schemes in place to cover their employees but we do not know if this covers students on placement. Where clubs choose not to include student placements within their corporate covers, students are restricted to working only with the players not affected by the CSP exclusion.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and military units placements

You must take special care when undertaking placements with the MOD or any military unit and you should talk this through with your clinical placement co-ordinator. We are aware that some military units ask students to sign documents that mean the student undertakes to insure the MOD for a wide-range of employer obligations. You must not sign these forms, even if it means that regrettably your placement falls through.

Placements with smaller independent physiotherapy practices/practitioners

You must ensure you have your own individual insurance in place to cover your placement. The CSP PLI scheme will provide the cover you need subject to the terms and conditions of the policy. Your placement provider must also ensure they have appropriate cover in place to support practice placements. You will also need to take out any additional insurance if you choose to do a placement that includes working with animals or some professional footballers, or other setting/activity that is not be covered by the CSP scheme.

Placements in social care and the voluntary sector

Where the social care or voluntary organisation is also an employer, students on placements are likely to be covered by the employer’s scheme. However, some physiotherapists who work in this sector do so on a self-employed basis. You must ensure you have your own individual insurance in place to cover your placement. The CSP PLI scheme will provide the cover you need subject to the terms and conditions of the policy. Your placement provider must also ensure they have appropriate cover in place to support practice placements.

Practice placements overseas

Students may also be able to arrange practice placements overseas. These are sometimes called 'electives' and take place before you complete your programme. You must consider your insurance arrangements when arranging any placement overseas. The CSP PLI covers supervised student placements overseas for up to 180 days duration, anywhere in the world except USA, Canada or Australia. If you want to do a placement in any of these three countries you will need to take out separate insurance.

Foreign students who are enrolled as an overseas student studying on a UK-based, recognised HCPC pre-registration physiotherapy programme do benefit from the PLI scheme while undertaking a formal student elective in their home country (but not USA, Canada or Australia).

If you are arranging your own placement, in the UK or overseas, you should keep a clear record of the details of the placement and the name of your supervising physiotherapist (or other registered health professional). If a claim is made against you while you are a student you will be required to prove you had an appropriate supervisor, so it’s important you keep these details for future reference.

If you are an overseas qualified physiotherapist undertaking a post-registration master’s degree in the UK, and you have not yet secured HCPC registration, then you do not have cover under the CSP PLI scheme. This is because the PLI scheme requires all qualified physiotherapists to be HCPC-registered to be eligible for cover. You should talk to your HEI about what cover you require.

Your CSP insurance is not in force if you cannot prove that you have an appropriate registered supervisor in place.

You must be supervised at all times during your placement activity. This does not have to be direct one-to-one supervision, which might not be appropriate as you approach registration, but at all times a registered health professional or social worker must be responsible for determining the work you do, and checking that what you have done is safe and appropriate.

'Placements' after completion of your pre-registration programme

Once you have completed your pre-registration programme you will automatically be moved to our 'graduate affiliate' (GA) membership category. HEIs notify the CSP of programme completion dates directly. You may 'complete' your programme sometime before the ceremonial event of 'graduation', depending on your HEI.

Graduate Affiliate membership does not provide PLI cover. We are aware some members wish to undertake various 'placements' abroad in the period between completing their programme and subsequently graduating and/or starting work as a physiotherapist. You will need  to obtain separate insurance to undertake these 'placements' and you cannot extend your student membership to seek to cover these activities as you have already completed your pre-registration programme.

If you do not complete your programme on the date you originally expected to finish, please contact

Once you are HCPC registered and a full practising member of the CSP, you can find out how you can volunteer abroad here.

Insurance for unsupervised practice

We know that many students undertake unsupervised work, which is often paid, in areas of practice that, in a different context, can also be considered physiotherapy practice e.g. sports massage and taping. You must be aware that where the work is unsupervised, it will not be covered by the CSP scheme. If you want to do this work unsupervised you must take out your own separate insurance for your work.

Further information

The advice on this web page is intended for student members of the CSP. HEIs wanting information on their own insurance provisions or obligations must seek the advice of their own suitably qualified insurance advisers. The CSP is unable to advise HEIs or other organisations.

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