Parents Unaware Of Their Liabilities When Dealing With Other Peoples’ Children

A new report from Liberty Mutual reveals that most parents are unaware of the insurance ramifications when handling other people’s children and they’re engaging in some pretty risky behaviors to go along with their more active lifestyles. The study found that 83 percent of parents with children aged five to 12 years admitted to driving with or hosting other children in their home but were “unaware of the insurance ramifications of certain behaviors and decisions.”

Close to one-third (32 percent) neglected to enforce basic home safety rules and 79 percent admitted to distracting behaviors (i.e. speeding, talking on the phone, texting) while driving other people’s children.

“Our study reveals that many parents may not realize that everyday activities, like carpooling and play dates, may require a closer look at their coverage and where they may be vulnerable,” said Ty Harris, executive vice president and chief product officer at Liberty Mutual Insurance. “Understanding your coverage and ensuring enough liability protection is included in your policy is essential to protect your family and your future.”

The findings also highlight a crucial area where many agents are underselling their clients. With such low statistics, it’s clear that whatever outreach and informational tactics agents have been using on their clients in this regard has not been setting in. As Liberty Mutual notes, “parents of young children do not fully understand their auto or home insurance coverage and may be at more risk than they realize. More than one-third of those with auto insurance, and nearly half of those with home or renters insurance report they are unaware of their liability coverage if someone is injured in their vehicle or home. In addition, only 12 percent of parents surveyed have an umbrella policy, which provides liability coverage in excess of standard home and auto policies.”

So what can agents do to make sure that their clients are protected from these unpredictable liabilities?


One: Provide more real-world scenarios at the point of purchase.

Before a customer leaves your office for the first time, ask them how much interaction they have with other peoples’ children. Do they often take their son or daughter’s friends home from school? If so, what have they done — if anything — to ensure that family can’t go after their personal assets in the event of an accident? Helping clients to visualize these scenarios can make a bigger impact when it comes to selling them on an umbrella policy.


Two: Use life changes to bring up the conversation.

When I was a single person without children, I would have never thought about things like this, and probably ended up under-purchasing. But now with a six-month-old at home and the realization that she’ll be having friends of her own in a few years, I’m actually thinking more about this liability. (Of course, that’s largely because I’m writing about it.) From the agent perspective, reaching out to people like me when we undergo major life changes can ensure that they grab a more protective policy as life calls for it.


Three: Make sure parents are evaluating every aspect of their lives where they may be vulnerable.

Your customers generally carry more than one policy, and auto and home are two biggies when it comes to liabilities for what happens to other people in their care. Ensuring that your customers understand their policies while working to bolster safety precautions, eliminate distractions, and be more responsible, will go a long way in avoiding claims, but don’t assume they understand that. As their advocate, you the agent can make sure they are well-educated on what it means to take care of someone else’s kids as well as what protections will be there for them if the worst happens.


In Summary

Taking more ownership of one’s coverages is essential to staying safe when caring for other people’s children. To make sure your clients are ahead of the curve, take every opportunity you can before, during, and after the sale to ensure they are thinking ahead and protecting themselves from future incidents.

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