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Why Adult Care Facilities Need Sexual Abuse Insurance

By Tangram Insurance Services
April 02, 2024
Why Adult Care Facilities Need Sexual Abuse Insurance

You may not want to think about sexual abuse taking place at your adult care facility, but it’s a real risk that requires attention. Without sexual abuse insurance in place, your adult care facility may be unprepared in a lawsuit. Since risks may be increasing, this is a good time to examine your coverage.

The Vulnerability of Adult Care Facility Residents

The World Health Organization (WHO) says one in six people aged 60 years or above experienced some form of abuse in the past year. Rates of abuse are even higher in institutional settings, such as long-term care facilities. Abuse may involve emotional abuse, financial abuse, or negligence as well as physical or sexual abuse.

Adult care facility residents are often particularly vulnerable. They may be socially isolated and unsure of how to report incidents or seek help. They may also suffer from cognitive issues and memory problems that make it difficult for them to stand up for themselves and ensure others take them seriously. Unfortunately, some people exploit these vulnerabilities.

Multiple Factors May Increase Risks

Sexual abuse and molestation risks are not new for adult care facilities, but several factors may be leading to increased exposures.

  • The aging population. The S. Census Bureau says approximately one in six people in the U.S. were aged 65 or above in 2020. For comparison, only one in 20 people in the U.S. were aged 65 or above in 1920. As Baby Boomers age, the population as a whole ages. By 2030, all Baby Boomers will be 65 or above. The large number of seniors is putting more pressure on organizations that provide services for them, including long-term care facilities. Under the strain of a larger population, these facilities may see an increase in abuse.
  • The staffing shortage. A Leading Age survey found that 70% of assisted living providers have a significant or severe workforce shortage. Facilities needing more workers may cause some to lower their hiring standards, making it easier for high-risk applicants to pass through the screening process. At the same time, high turnover and heavy workloads could mean facilities don’t notice signs of abuse as quickly.
  • Increased social awareness. In recent years, the Me Too movement and high-profile cases have increased awareness of sexual abuse. Although increased awareness is a good thing, it may also raise the risk of lawsuits.

Your Facility May Not Have Coverage

Adult care facilities may assume their general liability insurance will cover them if they ever face an abuse allegation, but this isn’t always the case. Many general liability insurance policies have abuse exclusions, meaning they don’t provide coverage for claims alleging sexual abuse or molestation. Even if a policy does provide coverage, there may be sub-limits and other restrictions that reduce the amount of coverage available.

Imagine facing an abuse lawsuit without insurance coverage. It may be costly even before any settlements or awards. Having adequate abuse insurance coverage will shield you from the financial impact.

How to Protect Your Residents and Your Facility

The idea of abuse occurring in your facility may seem unthinkable. However, if you don’t take steps to prevent abuse, you’re putting your residents at risk and exposing your facility to liability.

Some key actions to take include:

  • Screening employees, volunteers, and third-party service providers. Background checks should help you weed out individuals with a history of abuse. You should screen anyone who will be close to residents, whether your facility employs them or not.
  • Establishing procedures to report and investigate suspected abuse. A clear reporting procedure will prevent suspected cases from falling through the cracks. Encourage workers to report all suspicions, even if they lack solid evidence, and investigate all reports.
  • Training staff on how to identify potential signs of abuse. The American Psychological Association provides a list of red flags that facilities may want to share with workers. These signs include unexplained changes in behavior, bruises, sunken eyes, weight loss, and venereal diseases.
  • Checking your insurance coverage. Review your policies to see whether they include sexual abuse and molestation coverage and whether the limits are sufficient. When working with third-party service providers, consider liability exposures and include insurance requirements in your contracts.

Tangram provides adult care facility insurance through the Personal Care & Assisted Living Insurance Center (PCALIC). We offer liability coverage with abuse limits of up to $1 million. Learn more.

Article provided by Tangram Insurance Services.