Fears that hundreds of children’s homes could close
because insurance companies are refusing to offer cover were
sparked after a private provider was just 24 hours from closing all
four of its homes because it could not get public liability cover,
writes Sally Gillen.
Tony Harris, director of SES Care Ltd, which runs homes for some
of the country’s most vulnerable young people, including
those on secure orders, was preparing to close the homes because
insurers said they were no longer taking “high risk” contracts.
But they were saved after a last-minute u-turn by the
company’s original insurers, which decided not to terminate
the contract because Harris had run homes for 25 years without any
Harris said: “It was definitely touch and go and we are really
angry about it.” He added that his unblemished record had persuaded
the insurance company to renew their contract, but he predicted
that homes which did not have such a good record would have
difficulty getting insurance.
In the last fortnight he said he had spoken to around 30 private
providers, one of which was a national company with 50 homes, which
was experiencing the same problems.
Joan Jerrett, secretary for the National Association of
Independent Resources for Children, said: “We have received a lot
of calls from people who have been having trouble getting
insurance. We have been especially busy over the last few weeks
because many homes’ policies are up for renewal.”
One member was given 10 days’ notice by her insurance
company that it intended to end its contract and “although she
eventually found a company, it was a bit hairy” said Jerrett.
Later this month NAIRC plan to address the problem at a board
The providers now aim to set up a consortium to tackle the
problem and are expecting the National Care Standards Commission to
take action on their behalf.
But a spokesperson for the commission said that although they
were aware of cases where providers had had problems getting
insurance, they did not yet view it as a serious problem.