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Morton Michel's Insurance Blog
Welcome to the Morton Michel's Insurance Blog where you will find regular, informative and helpful articles on childcare insurance.
Keep an eye on your policy - May 2013
Insurance is the kind of subject that can glaze over the eyes. But for professional nannies, it’s an issue of vital importance. Morton Michel’s Catherine Bates explains why.
As in any walk of life, there are hundreds of reasons why having the right insurance cover could one day be the saviour of a nanny.
Take this scenario, for example: a nanny brings a cup of coffee to the dining room table where the toddler in their care is sitting, he reaches out and pulls it over, covering himself in hot liquid and sustaining bad scalding for which he needs hospital treatment.
It seems like a simple accident, doesn’t it? But in fact, the nanny could be successfully sued because they made the coffee too hot. Even though they didn’t deliberately leave it in the child’s reach, they should have anticipated this type of accident might happen, and prepared a cooler drink.
This scenario isn’t made up – it actually happened a few years ago to a childminder. But if this accident had happened to a nanny, then the legal case result could have been the same. And if the nanny in question had public liability insurance, any ensuing damages would have been paid by his or her insurance company.
If families want to pay their nanny using childcare vouchers then the nanny has to become ‘registered’ childcare, and to do this they would need to take out a voluntary registration as a ‘Home Childcarer’ with Ofsted. In order to be registered, a nanny has to hold public liability insurance.
Some nannies assume that because they are employed by the child’s parents they cannot be sued for negligence. But this is not the case.
Public liability insurance covers nannies for anything happening to children in their care for which they can be held legally liable. The definition of negligence, in legal terms, is a culpable omission of a positive duty. In a nanny’s role, it could be something as simple as the above case of a child being scalded by a hot drink, a baby wriggling and falling off a changing table, or a toddler choking on something they should not have had access to. If the nanny is considered to be negligent at the time the accident happened, she could find herself having to pay damages for any injuries sustained.
Money is, of course, an issue, but public liability insurance isn’t very costly to arrange. It only takes a few minutes and costs in the region of £60 a year. Once it’s set up, it will give you the peace of mind of knowing you have protection, and, in addition, it demonstrates to an employer you take a professional approach to your work.
Some nannies wrongly assume that because they don’t have much money, there wouldn’t be any point in someone suing them. But in law, a child can make a claim for damages up until the age of 21, which is clearly years after they have left the nanny’s care. In this time, a nanny’s financial circumstances might conceivably change dramatically. You should check any potential insurance policy is on a ‘claims incurred’ and not a ‘claims made’ basis. A ‘claims incurred’ policy will cover you for any claims incurred during the period of insurance, whether the claim is made then or not. A ‘claims made’ policy will only cover you for a claim that is made during the actual terms of insurance – so if a child brings a claim against you years after the event, there’s no cover in place.
A good insurance policy will also provide legal expenses cover which would allow the nanny to request a legal representative to accompany her to the police station if she is questioned on allegations of child abuse or neglect. Access to legal advice helplines can also give nannies peace of mind if they have any employment of contractual issues.
A nanny’s own liability insurance is the responsibility of the nanny, but they should also enquire whether their employer has adequate insurance. It is the law in the UK that anybody who employs someone must display a certificate of employers’ liability insurance in the workplace. An employer may already have it included within their household insurance package, and should be able to show proof of this to their nanny. Or they can take out standalone employer’s liability cover. Either way, nannies are well within their rights to request to see proof of their employer’s insurance.
Insurance is not just there to protect the parents or the nanny or even just the child – all parties benefit from being properly covered, and having access to the correct legal advice for example can help minor disputes from escalating. Accidents can and do happen, in the home, at the park and sometimes in the car and they can affect the nanny or the child equally. Insurance should be seen as a necessity for any childcare professional today.
By spending a few minutes sorting it our now, you could save unnecessary distress down the line.
Catherine Bates - Account Manager Nanny Department