Fostering is a growth area in the UK. But there is always the risk of being on the sharp end of a complaint, which means that the carer may suddenly lose all their income overnight. Now there is an insurance product designed to cover this eventuality.
Financial and Legal Insurance (FLI) has launched a specialist legal expenses insurance (LEI) product for foster carers. The scheme is distributed via London Market broker Circle Insurance Services to their client Cass-Stephens (a broker in Gloucester), and provides legal expenses cover in the event they are subject to complaints relating to the foster care, as well as loss of earnings cover for the foster parents.
According to Ian Kember, business development lead at FLI, who has adopted a child himself, said his personal knowledge of the sector was a key factor behind FLI picking up the challenge.
He said: “Fostering children is a high pressure job and carers who receive complaints face significant reputational risk, as well as loss of earnings. Circle came to us asking for help to develop a product that, as well as covering legal expenses, also protected agency members against loss of earnings.”
“Our product is the first in this specialist field to include cover for loss of earnings. It will be competitively priced and offered via the broker, Cass Stephens to members of the fostering agency they look after. Many foster parents rely on their earnings from fostering for their income and cannot afford to lose their livelihoods.”
Ian explained that Between 2019-2020, there were almost 2,500 complaints made against foster carers, of which 63% were made by fostered children against their foster carers, which is a similar proportion as 2018 to 2019 (65%). The other third came from other sources. He said that there is 20% chance that a foster carer will get a complaint during their career.
In the UK, fostering services are provided by local authorities or via independent fostering agencies (IFAs). Government figures show that half of all investigations into allegations were resolved in less than 21 days. A quarter of allegations took more than 50 working days to conclude. On average, allegations were concluded more quickly in IFAs than in LAs. Of all allegations in IFAs, 59% were resolved in less than 21 days, compared with 46% in LAs.
Nicola Bradshaw, account handler at broker Circle Insurance said: “It’s great that FLI has been able to step in and provide this service for foster carers. The cover will be moulded into a package of products and offered to agency members via monthly subscription. They expect to see 90% take up of this insurance among their members, and will use it to attract new members to the agency.”
“The FLI team really understood what was required and that experience has enabled us to provide our client a product which they believe will help improve the chances of bringing candidates to do this socially essential role.