Insurance claims - advice

This advice provides information regarding insurance claims made by carers due to property damage caused by a child protection client placed in their care.

Introduction

The Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) is the insurer for the Department of Health and Human Services. VMIA’s coverage applies to foster care, kinship care or pre-permanent care placements where, during a period of care, a child causes damage to a carer’s property either through accident or malice.

Learning to drive: decision-making and planning

Driving is a key life skill. Young people living in out-of-home care should be provided normal opportunities to learn to drive as part of their case plan. Discussions with the young person, parents and carers should occur as part of the case planning process for the young person, and the decision to commence driving lessons should be endorsed by child protection through the case planner before lessons commence. 

Insurance coverage for home based carers

This insurance cover is limited and should not replace private household insurance policies which are available in the private insurance market.

The insurance only applies for home-based care arrangements where there is active child protection involvement. Permanent care orders are not covered by VMIA. Permanent carers should be advised of this.

Claims for damage to the carer's property

In situations where a child in care causes damage to the carer's property, the carer should make the claim against their domestic insurance policy. Where a policy excess applies, the carer should make the payment, and provide evidence of the payment to their community service organisation (CSO), (or to the department if it has arranged the placement), who will then apply for the amount to be repaid to the carer through the VMIA. The CSO and department should provide VMIA with the carer’s details to assist with payment arrangements.

Claims for damage to the carer's motor vehicle

In cases where a child in care damages a motor vehicle owned by the carer (or owned by a member of the carer's immediate family or other resident permanently residing in the carer's household) in a non-driving incident, the carer should contact their CSO who will contact VMIA.

Where damage to a motor vehicle occurs from a driving accident caused by a young person in care under learning supervision, DHHS and VMIA will provide cover for the excess, loss of no claim bonus and increase in the carer's motor vehicle renewal premium. Carers must first claim on their private motor vehicle insurance and then provide to their CSO a letter from their insurer which indicates the excess paid and the financial penalty that applies to the renewal of their policy. The CSO should also provide VMIA with the carer's details so the refund cheque can be made direct to the carer.

Claims for damage to property or motor vehicle not owned by a carer

If a child in care damages property or a motor vehicle (in a non-driving situation) which is not owned by the carer or carer's family, the carer should contact the CSO who will contact VMIA.

Managing claims

All carers should comply with the disclosure requirements of their domestic insurance policy, which may include disclosing that they are caring for vulnerable children in statutory care. The carer must not disclose private or identifying information about a child placed in their care to an insurance company.

If a domestic insurer rejects a claim for damage to a carer’s property caused by a child placed in their care, the claim should then be referred to VMIA.

Where a carer chooses not to take out domestic insurance, their position remains unchanged in that damage to the carer’s property caused by the child or young person placed in their care (other than on a permanent care order) is to be notified via their CSO or the department to VMIA for direct claim settlement.

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