As adults age, they often require continuous care either in their homes or at adult residential care facilities.
Remaining at home is a dream for many of these individuals because they still want to feel as if they have their freedom and independence. When it is time to hire an in-home caregiver to take care of loved ones, it's challenging to make the right choice.
Though you can find reputable caregivers in any state, taking the time to thoroughly screen potential caregivers is always important. However, it is only one part of the process.
You also want to ensure caregivers have the right insurance coverage in place. Hiring a properly insured caregiver is the best way to protect you and your loved one financially, in the event any harm comes to the person being cared for.
Finding the Right Caregiver
In addition to asking about experience, training, references and work history, it is important to ask in-depth questions relevant to real-time care. For example, ask about services they do and don't provide, how they want to handle payments, their schedule, their procedures for incidents or accidents, their sick-day policy, and how to cancel the contract if necessary. If they will be transporting your loved one to doctor's appointments or on days out of the house, inquire about their driving record and ask for proof of a driver's license.
Many times, families too quickly make a decision based on who has the best reputation or warm personality, or who promises exactly what they want to hear. While it's a good idea to hire a caregiver with a warm and nurturing personality alongside a reputation and experience to back it up, it is also vital the caregiver has the right insurance protection in place.
Why Caregivers Need Insurance
Caregivers are not only responsible for caring for your loved one, but they are also responsible for the safety and ongoing well-being of those in their care. Even with the best training and years of experience, caring for others is a risky business. Make sure your caregiver has appropriate liability and auto insurance.
Hiring a caregiver that doesn’t have these coverages in place, puts you and your loved one at risk because even the best caregivers make mistakes. Consider what happens if your loved one falls and injures themselves while in the care of the caregiver or the caregiver causes an accident while transporting the individual. Who will pay the resulting bills and expenses?
If you suspect a fall occurred due to negligent care or foul play took place while in transit, it is likely you will file a lawsuit for pain, suffering, and medical expenses against the caregiver. By requiring caregivers to carry insurance, you will have better peace of mind knowing there is coverage for unexpected bills from incidents such as these.
Your caregiver will likely be transporting your loved one, so it's vital to ensure they have adequate auto insurance and are actively paying their policy. Caregivers should have adequate coverage for injuries and medical expenses for passengers in the vehicle.
To be adequately covered, the caregiver needs to carry Personal Injury Protection or Medical Payments which pays for injury and medical expenses arising from an auto accident. Even though auto insurance is mandatory for the majority of drivers, most states don’t require these coverages, giving drivers the option to purchase them. To be sure your caregiver does have these in place, require that they provide evidence of their auto insurance listing all included coverages.
If you allow a caregiver to occasionally use your family’s vehicle, you’ll may need to add these coverages to your own policy as well, as whose insurance applies in a collision can be hard to determine. This is usually quite affordable--$15,000 of PIP coverage in Oregon, for instance, costs just $167 on average.
Taking on additional coverage to protect the caregiver and patient might come at increased costs, but the piece of mind for all those involved will be worth it.
Liability insurance covers unfortunate incidents, such as a worsened health condition, unplanned medical expenses or death, that may stem from the caregiver's mistakes, negligence or intentional harm. If the caregiver doesn't have insurance, families often end up waiting for payment even though any resulting bills still need to be paid because their wages are garnished over time.
Hiring a caregiver through an agency doesn’t always guarantee they will have adequate liability insurance. Some agencies contract their caregivers, expecting the caregiver to carry their own liability insurance. No matter which path you take to finding a caregiver, requiring proof of insurance is a good best practice to put in place.
Hiring a caregiver with insurance assures there is an adequate amount of money to cover a potential lawsuit and the settlement to your family.
Where to Find Caregivers
Beginning a search for a caregiver is a daunting task. The best place to start is by contacting your state's licensing department for a list of providers. From there, research potential caregivers online to check their reputation and ask others who have used similar services.
Even if you live in one of the states on Caring.com’s list of best states for family caregivers, thoroughly vetting potential caregivers should always be a priority. Always request a certificate of insurance showing that the individual you are trusting to care for your loved one, has both professional liability and auto insurance including PIP or medical payments in place.
Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman's focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.
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