Covering all ground – insuring your home as a foster carer

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Things can get a little tricky when it comes to home insurance for foster carers. This is especially the case when it comes to making claims, particularly for intentional damage. Having the right home insurance is vital for peace of mind.

Steve’s story

‘Some years ago it became apparent that a child in placement was a fire starter. I contacted our then insurer to find out where we stood. This was because someone else I knew had had an issue with insurance in similar circumstances. I was told the insurer would be in touch.

‘A few days later I got a response. “We are terminating your cover. You have 14 days to arrange cover with another insurer.” I called them up, “we don’t cover short-term carers, only long-term” was their answer.

‘I pointed out that we had been with them over five years and made it clear we were foster carers at every renewal. They said they wouldn’t have paid up any claim during this time. I said I wanted all my premiums back then. They said they’d look in to it.

‘I got on with finding an alternative company who would cover us. I found one and made sure they would indeed cover us.

‘There are two upsides to this story. First, got five years premiums back, £2500. Second, premium was half what I’d been paying!’

Steve had informed the insurance company that they are foster carers, but was still facing problems when it came to claiming.

With standard home insurance, it may not be enough just to tell your insurer that you are a foster carer. Even though it may make little to no difference on your premium, and they duly note on your policy that this is your ‘occupation’, you may still not be covered for some of the things you assume you would be.

Taking intentional damage as an example, if your insurer deems fostered children to be a part of your family, this would mean that any damage they cause intentionally or any thefts or attempted thefts would not be covered under your policy. Melanie echoes Steve’s story, saying: ‘I told my insurance company that we foster, however we weren’t covered when a young person living with us intentionally bent and snapped our new iPad Air.’

Melly has this to add: ‘We have been told by our insurers that they will happily cover us for a foster child as one of our own children, however they only cover accidental damage. When I explained what trauma can look like and that a child might break things they said that malicious or wilful damage wouldn't be covered.’

Ask the right questions

Your best bet is to be absolutely clear with your insurer about what’s covered and what’s not. Here are 10 very important questions to ask a potential insurer:

  1. I am a foster carer, do you apply any additional restrictions, reductions or exclusions to my policy?
  2. Do you cover my foster children’s possessions as contents of my home? Are there any non-standard restrictions, reductions or exclusions to this?
  3. Would you provide cover for any accidental damage caused to my buildings and contents by a foster child in my care?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. If a foster child has a criminal background or a background of causing damage, do I need to disclose this to you?
  7. Do you have a cap on how many foster children I can have in my care at any one time?
  8. What is your claims process for dealing with foster carer home insurance claims? Will I need to give you a crime reference number for theft or criminal damage? (This is important as getting the crime reference number will require you reporting your fostered child, which you may not want to do).
  9. 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?
  10. Am I able to get specific foster home insurance advice at any stage during my policy period?
     

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.

When it comes to home insurance, be as open as you can with the insurers – and remember getting the right home insurance is vital for having peace of mind.