Care home insurance is a specialist field because it covers a closely regulated business area. Private businesses that look after elderly or vulnerable people, who often require round-the-clock care and support, need to ensure they are fully covered by insurance in the event that something goes badly wrong. In any care home situation, the risks of accident and injury are high, and while best practice should obviously be followed in order to minimise the risks, comprehensive cover, including legal expenses insurance, is essential.
Care homes differ; some just provide accommodation and basic care, while others deal with caring for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Such businesses require different types and levels of cover. That is why it’s best to buy insurance through an experienced and knowledgeable insurance broker. They can help you to tailor an insurance package that meets your business’ needs. The law concerning care homes is also complex and frequently changing, so it is important to keep up to date with your legal obligations. Here are seven kinds of insurance policy you should consider.
1. Employer’s liability insurance
Employer’s liability insurance is required by law. It covers you (the business owner) against any legal action by your employees in respect of accident or injury sustained while at work. Should an employee launch a claim for compensation, for instance, due to a back injury sustained when lifting a heavy object or a patient, you will be able to claim on your insurance policy. This covers the amount paid out, as well as related legal expenses.
2. Buildings & contents insurance
If you own the premises in which your care home is situated, this represents a major asset to your business and it’s important to have it insured for the full rebuild cost. Just as important is commercial property insurance, covering the home’s fixtures and fittings, furniture, office equipment, medicines and specialist stock and equipment. While you will not be insured against everyday wear and tear, you will be covered if items are broken or stolen by staff, residents or visitors.
Residents’ contents are a separate matter. Depending on the agreement you have with service users, they may need to insure their own personal possessions and belongings when entering the home. Alternatively, you may take out insurance to cover residents’ belongings as a business. Make sure that everyone knows whose responsibility this is upfront.
Mechanical equipment like lifts, hoists, etc. generally need to be regularly, independently inspected and your insurer will need you to comply with these terms.
3. Medical malpractice insurance
Nursing and medical care is largely a matter of judgement, and even the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals can get it wrong. When a patient’s health is at stake, an understandable mistake can easily lead to legal action for medical malpractice.
This insurance policy protects medical professionals against legal action resulting from misdiagnosis, and is strongly recommended for any business recommending specific courses of treatment. A separate policy can also be taken out against the consequences of an outbreak of an infectious disease on the premises.
4. Professional indemnity insurance
Professional indemnity insurance may cover similar areas to medical malpractice but has a wider reach, including mistakes made by employees that result in legal action. On a medical level, this might include a nurse accidentally administering the wrong medication, but it could also cover a member of staff who needed to lift or restrain a service user, accidentally causing injury.
5. Legal expenses insurance
There is a wide variety of legal expenses that a care business may have to face in addition to those outlined above. These might include disputes with employees or other contractors, as well as legal cases brought by the local authority or HMRC. Allegations of abuse or widespread maltreatment are also a possibility that every care business must consider. Even if they are completely unfounded, the legal costs can be extremely damaging without adequate insurance cover.
6. Public and other liability covers
Public liability cover insures you against action taken by a third party visiting your premises. This party could be a relative of a resident, a contracted worker or a local council inspector. If they suffer an accident while on your property, for instance slipping on a wet floor, then public liability insurance will cover your business against the consequences.
Another liability policy that you should seriously consider is trustees’ or directors’ and officers’ (D&O) liability insurance. This protects individual business owners or managers against legal action against the company, so they will not have to pay out company damages from their own pocket. It also protects individuals in the case of the company taking action against them.
7. Cyber insurance
A care home is often responsible for storing sensitive personal and medical records of service users, as well as the usual business data concerning HR and payroll. Taking out cyber insurance protects your business against the consequences of a data breach, whether due to a malicious attack or carelessness. If your computer system breaks down, you will need to get it up and running as soon as possible. A care home needs to maintain continuous uninterrupted service and, in the modern world, this is often dependent on a reliable computer network.
There are many different kinds of business that fall under the general heading of care homes. These can include homes for the elderly, children’s homes, residential and/ or day centres for people with learning difficulties, hospices, supported living facilities and so on. This means that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ insurance policy for every type of care business.
A reputable insurance broker can make sure your care home has the right combination of policies to ensure you can maintain your duty of care and commitment to all of your users without the worry of financial calamity if a problem does arise.