Why A Companion Care/Home Care Firm Needs Professional Liability Insurance

July 27, 2016

A home care or companion care firm has a significant professional liability risk resulting from errors or omissions, oversight or negligence committed by its employees, contractors or volunteers while performing their services. While it is one thing for a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or even a home healthcare aide to obtain Professional Liability insurance individually to protect against E&O claims, the home care agency itself should also carry its own coverage in the form of an Entity Professional Liability policy. Simply put, a home care agency should not rely on the coverage provided by individual caregivers (any many “para-professionals” do not purchase this policy). Entity Professional Liability insurance provides an organization with its own separate limits of liability, with the organization as the named insured, protecting the business in the event it is sued by an injured client/patient as the caregiver’s employer.

The professionals typically employed by home care agencies can include nurses, physical therapists, respiratory and occupational therapists, social workers, home health aides, and sitter/companions. These individuals, depending on their education level and services provided, may be handling medical treatment, wound care, disease and medication dispensing, as well as physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Their care also can include the performance or assistance in daily living activities, which involves tasks such as light housework, preparing meals, shopping for groceries and money management/assistance. Even though some of these services are not medical or healthcare-oriented in nature, there is still a professional liability exposure for the home care firm in providing these types of services and care.

In the course of performing these varied and diverse activities, there are exposures that can result in allegations of wrongdoing, leaving the home care agency defending itself and facing a possible out-of-court settlement or judgment. Allegations may include everything from failing to monitor a patient’s condition to improperly communicating with the patient about his or her medical doses that results in noncompliance, a deteriorating medical condition or a potential negligent health education claim. In addition, other claims filed against home care providers include the improper administration of medication, failure to maintain equipment, improper termination of service or abandonment, and allegations of abuse or molestation, among others. Allegations of abuse or molestation are of particular concern due to the vulnerability of the elderly population.

Moreover, there are privacy and security concerns involving patients’ protected health information (PHI). If there is a data breach because a home care worker’s laptop was stolen, for instance, the home care firm will be responsible for the costs involved in notifying clients, vetting the cause of the breach, a potential HIPAA regulatory investigation and penalties and liability settlements to third parties if financial damage is found. These costs can be covered under a properly secured Entity Professional Liability policy.

It’s important to note that General Liability coverage will not protect the organization against professional liability exposures that arise from their home care services, including those services provided by “para-professional” companion care and home health aides.

Manchester Specialty offers Entity Professional Liability insurance specifically designed to address the broad spectrum of professional care provided by home care and companion care firms. Our policy is available on a claims-made or occurrence basis, offers a zero deductible plan along with flexible retention levels, includes separate limits for Abuse & Molestation coverage, and provides tail coverage. For more information about how our products and services can help protect your insureds, please contact us at 855.972.9399.