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New insurance policy exclusions are putting home care agencies at risk

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting home care and home healthcare agencies at increased risk of liability from client lawsuits due to communicable disease exclusion clauses that insurance companies are adding to their policies.

Odell Studner Insurance broker Gavin Studner advised home care agencies to check their policies carefully for the exclusions. He suggested this Friday during a Care Academy webinar on liability risk during the pandemic.

“In the case of COVID, (the policy) won’t provide coverage if the client sues you as the homecare agency, alleging that https://www.sondercare.com/learn they contracted COVID from your caregiver,” Studner said. “This is important because even if it is a completely false claim, the carrier no longer has the duty to defend your claim and pay on behalf of your legal fees. As we know, legal fees can rack up, especially in our court system.

Studner said insurance companies began adding communicable disease exclusions to policies this year and some home care agencies are unaware of them. While some states don’t allow the clauses, Studner predicts most will in the near future, putting even more home care agencies at risk.

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To mitigate the risk of a liability, Studner warned agencies to tighten safety protocols, ensure client visits are all carefully documented, educate staff on the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine and encourage them to get the shots.

“We have found that about 80% of our clients’ caregivers are vaccinated and educational material does help,” Studner said