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

Practice placements form a vital 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 can advise you what insurance provision is in place. You may also choose to do additional practice based learning  in your spare time and in this case you should ensure that appropriate supervision and insurance provision are in place .

Employee 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 scheme.

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. Other employers should have similar cover in place. Such corporate insurance arrangements for the clinical negligence of their staff may include students. You should check with you HEI or with the placement provider that such covers are in place.

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 types of professional footballer. We understand that clubs have their own scheme 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

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

It is unlikely that small practices and physiotherapists who are self-employed / sole practitioners will have additional medical malpractice insurance in place to cover those working with them and students. Therefore, you must 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. You do not need to take out any additional insurance unless you choose to do a placement working with animals or some professional footballers, or other excluded setting, which would 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. Where the organisation is not an ‘employer’ or does not have alternative arrangements in place to cover its volunteers, you will need 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.

Practice placements overseas 

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 arrangement you set up and keep clear details of 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.

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 webpage 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.

Last reviewed: