Does my home insurance cover learning pods or pandemic pods?

14 Sep

As school starts back up, there are many parents who have misgivings about sending their children back to in-class learning as the coronavirus virus still rages around the country.  This has led many parents to start forming pandemic pods for their kids.

Learning pods, which are also called pandemic pods, have become a trendy alternative to going back to school among parents that can afford it. If you have joined a learning pod or are hosting one on a regular basis, you should notify your homeowner insurance company as there could be additional liability risk and you want to make sure you are covered.

Are You Running a Business?

 Homeowners insurance coverage will depend on whether your insurer looks at your learning pod as a home business or as homeschooling. 

Hiring a full-time teacher just for your own children can be expensive so many parents have joined forces with their neighbors to hire an instructor. Learning pods tend to be small groups of children, ranging from three to six kids in a group. In most cases, one parent hosts the classroom in their home.

Hosting is where the liability issues can come into play. If a teacher or child is injured in your home or tests positive for COVID-19 while at a pod you could have some liability issues.  If you are considering hosting a learning pod in your home, experts recommend talking to your homeowners insurance provider.

Learning Pods Can Be More Like Daycare

Because the parent is not developing a curriculum and teaching the children, a learning pod may be more like a daycare in the eyes of an insurance company.

As a parent, if you end up hosting the neighborhood learning pod, your insurer may consider it a home-based business which could result in claims being denied. If you are a teacher and hosting a learning pod in your own home, this could also be the case, leaving you exposed if a child is hurt in your home. 

Your homeowners insurance policy will step up and cover medical bills and even the cost of a lawsuit (up to your policy limits) if a guest is injured in your home or on your property. As an example, if your mailman slips on your snow covered sidewalk or your dog bites a guest, you would be covered by the liability section of your homeowners policy. 

Problems arise when an insurer can argue that you are running a home-based business and a learning pod may cross that line. Learning pods are a new and novel development that has come about due to the coronavirus pandemic which means that insurance coverage will vary depending on your specific insurer.

The best advice is to contact your insurance provider before inviting parents, kids and a teacher into your home. They should be able to advise you as to whether or not you are covered and whether your insurer will cover liability issues related to a learning pod. 

However, if you are a teacher and hosting a learning pod in your own home, there is a good chance your insurer will consider it a home-based business which will often result in no coverage if someone is injured in your home. If you are a teacher hosting a learning pod you should absolutely contact your insurer and you may need to consider professional liability coverage. 

In general, a standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover a home-based business. This means that many insurers won’t provide coverage because they consider a learning pod to be a business similar to a daycare and if that is the case, you could be on the hook personally if the teacher, or kids get hurt or are exposed to COVID-19. 

There are currently lawsuits working their way through the courts on whether employers are liable if employees are exposed to COVID-19 due to a lack of safety procedures such as no face masks or failure to follow social distancing.

If the teacher is considered your employee, they may be able to sue you if they end up getting injured or contracting COVID-19 at your home. This absolutely an issue you should discuss with your insurance company before you join or host a learning pod, you don’t want to find out you are without coverage once someone has been injured or fallen ill.

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