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Insurance and Foster Care

This information relates to the insurance needs of foster carers and respite carers who are fostering children in association with local authorities, health and social care trusts or independent fostering agencies. Insurance is a vital part of fostering to protect the foster carers from allegations, claims, damages to the family or the foster child and also to cover for the legal expenses which arise due to these unfortunate incidents.

If you are not insured, then do something about it immediately. If you are insured then check if you have got the right insurance package which covers you, your family, your foster child, family of the foster child, your property and other people who can be directly or indirectly involved.

Liability of Foster Carers

A court decision in England has set that foster cares can be held responsible for the damage caused to a child or young person which they are fostering if the carers are proved negligent. In addition to this, foster carers can also be held responsible for the damages caused by the foster child to someone else’s property or cause injury to someone else. This applies if the foster carers are found negligent for failing to exercise proper control. The Criminal Justice Act, and The Criminal Justice Children (NI) Order 1998, both make it clear that if a child who is in public authority care commits a crime and is ordered to pay a fine then the parents or guardians can be held liable to pay for the fine. Although the Home Office has excluded the foster carers from this category. Along with the other responsibilities, insurance cover is also essential for foster carers to protect themselves.

Get the right Insurance Package

Household insurance does not cover you for fostering insurance. If you are planning to foster and have already got insurance protection, then take the following necessary steps to make sure you have got the right insurance cover in case of unfortunate incidents.

Keep your insurance informed by writing that you are proposing to undertake fostering

Ask the insurance company to confirm in writing that the foster child is regarded as a member of family in the insurance package

Remind the insurance company about your fostering at each renewal of your insurance

If the property insurance and contents insurance are with different company, then make sure to inform both the companies about your fostering

If you are fostering a difficult child e.g., the child has been involved in theft or arson then inform your insurance about the relevant background history of the children

 
 

 If you are physically attacked by the foster child or their family, then you are not covered by household policy. In this unfortunate event, the foster cares should inform the fostering agency and the supervising social worker. Some fostering agencies provide accident benefit to their foster cares. If not, then the carers can pursue the claim through Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. Having a right insurance cover which covers the physical attack can protect you at the time of the claim.

Fostering a child might require to have a big car as the number of family members increase. But since the fostering agencies do not financially support the foster carers for buying new cars, the carers tempt to pile into existing car. By law a vehicle may only carry the same number of passengers as it has seat belts. Therefore, if an accident occurs and there are more passengers in the car than there are seat belts, insurers may not be able to help with the claim. It is always recommended to check with the insurers that you have got the right policy to cover all aspects.

If you are a tenant, make sure that you content insurance policy covers what you are responsible for according to the tenancy agreement. For example, if internal decorations are your responsibility make sure your policy covers this for any damage. These damages could be caused by the foster child who is placed with the foster carer.

Insurance cover is only valid while you have it. Because many allegations/claims arise long after the incident, it is important to keep your cover up to date, even if you no longer foster. The legal expenses policy insures people on a ‘claim made’ basis. This means that the relevant date for cover purposes is the date of the claim, not the date on which the incident took place. The underwriters for the Fostering Network’s legal expenses insurance provide legal support for foster carers to defend actions which relate to many years ago, as long as the foster carer’s insurance cover is current at the date of the allegation.