While you don’t need to have specialist home insurance to be a foster carer, most fostering services will expect you to advise your insurance company of your fostering role (check your fostering service's handbook) and we strongly recommend that you speak to potential insurers about your occupation to ensure you’re not exposed to any unnecessary risk.
We’ve pulled together this guide, with the support of our partner Towergate Insurance, to give you some more insight into what you need to think about and the questions you need to ask regarding home insurance to ensure you are adequately protected.
10 key questions to ask a potential insurer
- I am a foster carer, do you apply any additional restrictions, reductions or exclusions to my policy?
- Do you cover my foster children’s possessions as contents of my home? Are there any non-standard restrictions, reductions or exclusions to this?
- Would you provide cover for any accidental damage caused to my buildings and contents by a foster child in my care?
- Would you provide cover for any intentional or malicious damage caused by a foster child in my care? If yes, what would I be required to provide as evidence to support my claim submission?
- Do you require me to let you know as and when I accept new placements or foster children leave my care? If so, what information would you need me to provide and how quickly could you confirm if cover is available?
- If a foster child has a criminal background or a background of causing damage, do I need to disclose this to you?
- Do you have a cap on how many foster children I can have in my care at any one time?
- What is your claims process for dealing with foster carer home insurance claims?
- Do you have a team that understands my role as a foster carer? Do you understand that I will have occupation-related visitors to my home regularly, such as social workers?
Am I able to get specific foster home insurance advice at any stage during my policy period?
Why you should ask these questions
As a foster carer, in the eyes of an insurer, you may also be using your home as a business premises. This is why it is very important that you speak to any potential insurers to really understand what you are and are not covered for.
With standard home insurance, it may not be enough just to tell your insurer you are a foster carer. While it may not make any difference to your policy or premium, and they may note it on your policy that this is your occupation, it could be that you find you are not covered for things you assume you would be. Some specific things to think about are:
- Fostered children’s possessions - This may seem to you like a standard part of being a foster carer, but you need to make sure that any insurer considers your foster children’s possessions to be contents of your home. If not, and there is any loss or accidental damage to any of their belongings, your insurer may not pay out.
- Intentional Damage - You may well have fostered children in your care from time to time who have experienced distressing situations that means they show signs of anger; resulting in them damaging or stealing your property or contents. If your insurer deems foster children simply to be part of your family, this would likely mean that any damage they cause intentionally, rather than accidentally, and any theft or attempted theft would not be covered under your policy, so you may find yourself out of pocket.
- Claim requirements - If an insurer can extend your policy to include an element of intentional damage and theft cover, you should also check with them what the requirements would be to claim under this section of the policy. It may be that you would need to obtain a crime reference number for any incidents of this nature in order to progress the claim. We understand that adding to a criminal record for your foster children is likely the last thing you want to do, so it is worth asking this question to ensure this is cover you would be able, and comfortable, claiming on. There are specialist providers who can offer policies where there is no need to obtain crime reference numbers for claims of this nature to be processed.
Awareness of your role and what it entails - It is unlikely that a standard home insurance provider would really understand what it means to be a foster carer and the processes that you follow to accept new placements. It may be that an insurer understands that you are a foster carer, but that as a condition of the policy, they require you to notify them of any new placements you are considering accepting and whether they have a criminal background or a history of causing damage.
What if I don’t think standard home insurance is right for me?
Some home insurers will cover you for all children in your care at all times regardless of background, with no need to notify them as and when you accept new placements or when foster children move on. In addition, it is important that insurers are aware that it is a standard requirement for foster carers to receive occupation-related visitors to the property, such as social workers, and to ensure this is not going to have an impact on your cover. If you don't have specialist home insurance it would be sensible to check with your fostering service as to how they would reimburse you for situations which may not be covered under a standard home insurance policy.
There are specialist providers of home insurance for foster carers, including our partner Towergate Insurance. They have designed a policy that takes all of the above into consideration and have a dedicated team to deal with enquiries from our members. They also offer discounts and other promotions for members of The Fostering Network so, if you are a member, don’t forget to tell them.