Home and Car Insurance for Foster Carers
As a foster carer it is really important that all your insurance policies cover your foster children. When you become a foster carer we strongly advise you to inform your home and motor insurance companies that you foster. You should also take the time to understand and be clear about how fostering children will affect your existing policy or any new insurance policy that you may apply for.
Remember – all children fostered by you must be included in your insurance policy.
Insurance companies will, for the purposes of the policy, include foster children as members of your family. Good practice would be for you to ask your insurance company for written confirmation that they have included your foster children in your policy.
What type of insurance do I need?
Foster carers should discuss with their fostering service as to what if any insurance they provide for their foster carers and to obtain this information in writing. Fostering Services should outline their position regarding their arrangements for meeting any legal liabilities of the foster carer that arise out of the placement of children and this should also be detailed within their foster care agreement . (Fostering Services Regulations, Schedule 5)
Fosterline regularly advises on some of the issues that are reported by foster carers regarding home insurance, for example
• Insurers reject claims when they find out policy holder is a foster carer as it was not disclosed on the insurance application form
• No cover provided for accidental damage
• No cover provided for wilful damage caused by a foster child
• No cover for a foster child’s own personal effects
• Fostering service unwilling to contribute to cost of replacement household items that fostered child has damaged
• Children with a previous history of damage issues may cause the insurer to decline cover.
You can avoid these pitfalls by discussing with your insurance company what type of cover you require and what will be most suitable for you as a foster carer.
Household, buildings and insurance cover
The key areas in relation to home insurance are accidental damage, malicious damage, theft and physical attacks by a foster child.
Having home insurance is vital, whether you own or rent your home you need to ensure that cover is in place to protect your home and your possessions.
If you are a home owner then check that you have buildings and contents insurance.
If you rent your home check that you have home contents insurance and make sure you have told the landlord in writing that you are fostering as he/she is responsible for ensuring that he/she has buildings insurance.
If you do not declare you are a foster carer, your policy may become invalid.
Most insurance policies do not automatically include cover for any unspecified accidental damage caused by your own children. Damage caused by your fostered children is usually treated in the same way. This additional cover is usually available at an extra cost.
Please be aware that ‘accidental’ damage does not include any deliberate or ‘malicious’ damage caused by either your own or your fostered children.
Good practice would dictate that you obtain written confirmation from your fostering service regarding their policy for reimbursing any deliberate damage caused by fostered children and young people.
If you use a specialist insurance provider who has agreed to cover malicious damage caused by fostered children; check the ‘excess’ clause in the policy as this indicates how much you as the policyholder will be required to pay; for example the first £50 of any claim you may make.
Check whether you have an ‘indemnity policy’ which covers the current cost of any articles less an amount for wear and tear or whether you have a ‘new for old’ policy whereby most articles will be covered for the cost to replace as new. (There are some exclusions such as clothing or bicycles which may not be covered for the current cost of replacement).
It is advisable that you obtain quotes from several different insurance providers.
Points to remember
• You need to inform the insurance broker of the maximum number of children
• You need to inform the insurance broker of the age ranges of children that you foster at one time.
• It may mean that you have to pay slightly more for your premiums but there are a number of insurance companies who specialise in home insurance for foster carers.
• If you foster a child with a history of causing damage to property/people, or a child you are looking after becomes a risk in this area then you should write and advise your insurance company about this change in your household.
• Do not share any personal details of the children you foster e.g., name and date of birth about the child or young person and if asked to do so you must ask a senior member of your fostering service to contact the insurance company and give them the information they need about the child’s background, the senior manager will take responsibility for disclosing any information that the insurers require.
Most household policies which cover your home contents will automatically provide cover for any legal liabilities you have as a home owner including the public/personal liability for you and your family or members of your household. This will cover you in respect of any members of the public that may make a claim against you; for example if your child causes an accident that damages someone else’s property.
If your child’s actions result in an injury to a member of the public, then the household public/personal liability cover will be used to deal with the claim.
However please remember that foster carers can be held liable for any injury to a member of the public caused by a fostered child if it is deemed that the foster carer failed to exercise proper control over the child. Furthermore, cover does not apply to you and your family and permanent members of your household should they suffer injury as a consequence of a fostered child’s actions.
For home owners; when organising your home ‘buildings’ insurance you are insuring the sum of the full costs for re-building the property and not the market value of the property. If you are unsure regarding this you can seek guidance from your mortgage provider or the insurance brokers.
There is useful information and guidance on calculating your property re-build costs on the Association of British Insurers website: Calculating your rebuild cost
Tips for foster carers dealing with home insurance:
• Obtain written confirmation of your fostering service’s position on home and contents insurance including public/private liability cover
• Check that you have insurance in place and if not act quickly
• Check your existing policies and ensure that appropriate cover is in place – check that your home, your possessions are covered and that you have public/private liability including personal injury – read the small print!
• Confirm in writing to your insurers that you are fostering and remind them when renewing your insurance
• Confirm in writing any changes in your household to your insurance provider and keep evidence of doing so and request an acknowledgement from them in writing.
• Check if there are excess clauses in your insurance policy and if so check with your fostering service if they are prepared to pay them in the event of a claim
• Ensure policies are renewed promptly and not allowed to lapse.
All foster carers who have a car, which is used for transporting foster children, must have an adequate motor insurance policy in place.
Foster carers should inform the insurance company providing the policy for their car that they are fostering, to ensure an appropriate level of cover.
Foster carers are also advised to check their fostering services position regarding their requirements for car insurance.
You will normally be required to provide documentary evidence of insurance cover to your supervising social worker for any vehicle used for transport purposes for a child. Any damage caused to a vehicle by a foster child is normally excluded from the insurance policy. However, if your car is damaged by a child/young person placed with you, and you find your insurance policy does not cover repair of damage caused, or there is a policy excess, you should consult your supervising social worker, to check whether your fostering service will consider financial assistance for repairs or policy excess payments.
The law states that seat belts must be fitted to all cars under a certain age, in both the front and the back of the vehicle and, if seat belts are fitted, any person travelling in the car must wear those belts, or a child placed in a suitable seat. Therefore, a vehicle may only carry the same number of passengers as it has seat belts. All motor insurance policies are interpreted in accordance with these seat belt laws, if an accident occurs and there are more people in the car than there are seat belts, insurers may refuse the claim, especially one relating to passenger injury. To comply with seat belt laws, remember that it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that any passenger, including any child, is securely and correctly seated and seat belts provided are being worn.
With motor insurance, the permitted use to which any vehicle is put is very specific. Any change in the use of that vehicle, however slight it may appear, may mean that you are not covered for that change of use or circumstances. You should check with your insurance company or broker to see that you have the correct policy, in order to avoid problems occurring at a later date.
Fosterline advisors can assist with clarifying any concerns or questions around home and motor insurance and provide advice and support.
Foster Carer Friendly Insurers can be found via a simple internet search.
Professional advice should always be sought from a qualified insurance broker or insurer before purchasing insurance cover and foster carers must always obtain written information from their fostering services regarding the fostering services policy on carers insurance.
For further information and support speak to a Fosterline advisor – lines are open between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays)