In the state of California, Community Care Licensing Division states that in-home child care providers must carry either $300,000 in liability insurance coverage or require parents to sign an affidavit informing the parents that the provider does not have liability insurance. Since many child care providers have limited disposable income, it makes sense that affidavits are the popular choice. But what exactly do affidavits say, and will they help you if you have an incident at your daycare?
Before we discuss what affidavits are, let’s first talk about what liability insurance is. General and professional liability insurance give you coverage in the event that a parent brings a lawsuit against you. That lawsuit could be for negligence, discrimination, or any number of other things. An insurance policy for child care providers will also include abuse and molestation coverage in case you are sued for, or accused of, abuse or molestation. These policies pay for attorneys fees to defend you in covered lawsuits, and they pay any resulting settlements for a covered loss.
When you as a child care provider have parents sign an affidavit of liability insurance, you are simply letting those parents know that you do not carry liability insurance for your daycare. That’s it. By using this affidavit, you are telling them that if they sue you, the damages will come out of your own pocket since you do not carry insurance.
Many providers have been misled into believing that affidavits are waivers of liability. This is incorrect. Nowhere on the affidavit does it state that the parents agree not to sue you. In fact, it says the opposite. If you look at the wording on the bottom of the affidavit, you will see that it says, “The law requires Family Child Care providers to carry liability insurance or bond in the amount of $300,000 annually or to maintain this signed statement in the facility file. Lack of a bond or insurance does not affect the right of parents to bring legal action against the facility.” These affidavits do not prevent a family from suing you, and they will do nothing to protect you in court if you are sued.
You could, of course, have a parent sign a waiver of liability in addition to the affidavit, however, this would do very little to actually protect you. A waiver of liability can protect you from lawsuits for ordinary negligence, but you would have to list every possible activity a child would be doing in your waiver. You cannot simply have parents sign a blanket waiver for all daycare activities. In addition, a waiver of liability is not enforceable in cases of gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts. For example, let’s say a child fell from your play structure and sustained a major fracture. You may very well have been close by watching the child, but a parent might claim there was a lack of supervision and decide to take you to court. What if you have a SIDS case in your care? What if an angry parent falsely accuses you of abuse? A waiver of liability would most likely not protect you in any of these cases.
When you take care of children for a living, accidents happen. False accusations are made against even the best providers. The only way to protect yourself and your business is to carry liability insurance. While affidavits might seem like the more affordable option, liability insurance is less expensive than you might think, and lawsuits can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. The minimal cost of insurance is worth the peace of mind you’ll have knowing that you have proper coverage. For more information on obtaining liability insurance, call DCI. We can help you find the right coverage for your business.