Operating a day care or child care program is a major responsibility. Day cares are responsible for the welfare of the children they watch, and they’re almost invariably held responsible if something goes wrong. Even if a day care is cleared of any negligence or wrongdoing, defending a program in court can be costly. If a day care is found responsible for an incident, a significant settlement may be levied against the program. Day care insurance helps protect day cares and child care programs in Massachusetts from potential liability suits, as well as many other possible risks.
Just as day care and child care programs have unique licensing requirements, they also have particular insurance needs. Day care insurance is a commercial insurance that’s specifically designed to meet those needs.
In general having an affidavit or waiver doesn’t provide complete protection from liability lawsuits. While an affidavit or waiver might serve as evidence that a parent or legal guardian was aware of a potential risk, a document doesn’t typically fully absolve a day care of responsibility. In most cases, the family of a parent may still sue and, depending on the circumstances of the incident, the day care could still be found liable for any injuries sustained by a child.
Because affidavits and waivers don’t generally provide an impenetrable defense, most day cares should carry a child care insurance policy that includes generous liability coverage. Liability coverage can help pay the legal costs of defending a day care in court and settlements associated with lawsuits over covered incidents.
While there isn’t a single set amount of liability coverage that day cares and child care programs should purchase, most are wise to select high liability limits when getting a child care insurance policy. Court cases can be drawn out, which often makes mounting a legal defense expensive, and settlements for successful cases can be high. Having lots of liability coverage, and possibly secondary coverage through an umbrella liability policy, can help ensure that a day care or child care program is well protected.
Most child care insurance policies can be categorized into “occurrence” and “claims-made” policies. Occurrence policies typically provide coverage for incidents that occur while the policy is in effect. Claims-made policies normally only cover claims that are actually made while they’re in effect. If an incident occurs while a claims-made policy is in effect, but no claim is made until after the policy expires, it likely won’t provide coverage. (Some occurrence policies have limits on how long policyholders have to file claims after the policy expires, but it’s usually at least several years.)
For the best protection, day cares should generally look for occurrence child care insurance policies. Families sometimes don’t file liability lawsuits right when an incident occurs. In some cases, the statute of limitations in Massachusetts may give families several years to file a suit. Occurrence policies are more likely to cover any suits that are filed well after an incident.
Most businesses in Massachusetts that watch children ought to have some form of child care insurance. This includes:
Any business that wants to review its day care insurance needs can contact an independent insurance agent who serves Massachusetts. An independent agent will be able to help a business, whether it’s a large day care in Boston, MA, a home-based program in Framingham, MA, or a business in Amherst, MA that provides child care to customers, determine if it needs child care insurance. If a business does, an agent can request quotes that are customized for the business.