Home Health: Agencies and Liability
If you are thinking about hiring a professional caregiver for your loved one at home, you may be trying to decide whether to hire a private caregiver, or one from an agency. Certainly, a large attraction to a private caregiver is a substantial savings in cost compared to an agency. Before making your final decision, be sure to consider insurance and liability. Of course, there are negligence laws in regard to elder abuse, but what if your home caregiver is injured on the job? What if your loved one’s valuables go missing? When hiring, you will want to ensure you and your loved one understand when and if you can be held liable.
Be sure to research important aspects of insurance, such as injury insurance, liability insurance and theft insurance. Is the caregiver covered by workers compensation insurance? If not, you or your loved one may be liable for the caregiver's injuries while he or she is on the job. Don’t be so sure your homeowners insurance will cover it, since many carriers exclude coverage for those who are under your employment at the time. Does the caregiver have adequate car insurance coverage? If the caregiver gets into an auto accident while on his or way to pick up your loved ones medication at the drug store, you or your loved one could be held liable. There’s also no guarantee your valuables will be replaced if your caregiver steals, unless there is adequate theft insurance.
Different types of caregivers carry different coverage. If you hire a private caregiver, you are liable for job related accidents in your home. You would have to look into your state’s workers compensation regulations and provide coverage for the caregiver. You may also want to look into purchasing extra coverage through your homeowners coverage, if available. Home care agencies, on the other hand, carry liability insurance and workers compensation. All employees are covered by the workers compensation and liability laws of your state. To avoid liability, many agencies do not permit caregivers to transport clients. However, some agencies will allow you to sign a waiver of liability.
Most caregivers do not have the time or energy to do all of this research before making a decision, and for that reason I most often recommend that a caregiver select a reputable and properly bonded, insured, and licensed home health agency to get additional help. I will stop short of saying it is the answer in every situation, but the cost savings do not usually justify the risk to the caregiver, your loved one, or to my client. I have contacts with a number of well-regarded home health agencies in the area – if you are looking for a recommendation please call and I would be happy to provide one, free of charge.
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