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Home care: A growing trend with unique risks

By William Mauro  |  September 29, 2015

Home care: A growing trend with unique risks

For the aging population in the United States, home healthcare is often less expensive, more convenient, and, some would say, healthier than staying in a nursing home.

But for the aides and skilled nurses in one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, it’s a job filled with enormous responsibility and frequently changing risks. The many exposures home healthcare workers face: Whether it’s helping a patient or client shower, get to the doctor, or take medication, home healthcare workers can face significant exposures.

Unlike most aides or nurses in long-term care facilities who usually work at the same place every day, home healthcare workers encounter a variety of working environments that can change regularly. Consider, for example, the following three possible scenarios involving home healthcare providers employed by the same agency:

  • Shower fall: A home healthcare nurse is on her first day at a new location and helps an elderly woman into the shower. Unfamiliar with the shower, the nurse makes the water too hot and accidentally scalds the woman, who then falls and breaks her hip.
  • Car accident: An aide worker uses his own car to pick up a different patient or client and bring the patient or client to a doctor’s appointment. The aide gets into an accident with another car, and the patient or client is injured.
  • Forgotten medication: An aide visiting a third patient or client does not confirm whether the patient or client is taking a daily insulin shot. After forgetting to take insulin for several days in a row, the patient or client goes into a coma.

How, if at all, will insurance policies issued to the agency that employs those home healthcare providers respond with respect to any related claims that may arise? The scenarios mentioned above could lead to potential insurance disputes under different policies, depending on the specific provisions of such policies, and individuals involved.

In addition, a home healthcare company’s medical professional liability (MPL) insurance policy and/or commercial general liability (CGL) policy might not be tailored to meet many of the unique needs of a number of home healthcare providers.

ISO Home Healthcare Program

To help address the wide range of potential exposures, Verisk offers the ISO Home Healthcare Program on a multistate basis, tailored to address the unique exposures of home healthcare providers. The program is designed to accommodate a gamut of home healthcare workers, from aides who cook and clean homes and provide companion services, to skilled nurses. Here are some program features:

  • A single coverage form will address both General Liability (GL) and Professional Liability (PL) related exposures related to home healthcare businesses.
  • Separate occurrence limits, for GL and PL. The ability to write the professional liability on an occurrence or claims-made basis.
  • Optional coverage endorsements that address : hired and non-owned auto-related exposures; vicarious liability with respect to abuse and molestation; employment-related practices liability; employee benefits liability; home healthcare equipment coverage; and theft of patients' or clients’ property coverage.