Learning Pods and Your Homeowners Insurance
Posted on September 15, 2020
While parents navigate getting their children back to school this fall, a new way for them to learn has developed. Homeschooling has been around for a long time, however creating learning pods (remote learning parent cooperative is the official terminology used) for groups of children from different households is more unique.
On the surface, this appears to be a smart way to pool resources for those not comfortable going back into school or in districts where there is full or partial remote learning occurring. It does add a liability concern for both the teacher as well as the homeowner hosting the learning pod.
This is such a new endeavor and each situation is unique, we cannot yet fully determine how an insurance company would respond. However, we can review what we do know. First, home-based businesses are not covered under a typical homeowner insurance policy. Additionally, Governor’s COVID-19 Order #49 indicates a non-parent does not meet the definition of a remote learning parent cooperative and is therefore subject to the Department of Early Education and Childcare (EEC) licensing. It also states the only compensation allowed is for food or learning materials; any compensation made to another individual would further the idea this would not fit the definition of a remote learning parent cooperative.
If a paid teacher/tutor is brought into a home with multiple families, not only does it appear they are subject to licensing but also could meet the definition of a home-business. These type of learning pods are going to be viewed more closely as daycare versus homeschooling.
Additional concerns are around the employment status of the teacher/tutor. As an employer, the host homeowner would be required to follow all applicable laws including all Massachusetts Wage & Hour Laws and provide for Workers Compensation (if the teacher is working 16 or more hours). Additional liability concerns could arise around wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation (covered by most Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). You can also be held responsible for the actions of the teacher for issues around abuse allegations or injuries to the children resulting from negligence.
As a teacher in a municipality or private/charter school, you are most likely covered by your employer’s insurance. However, when providing services separately, a typical homeowner policy would not provide coverage as it is now your business which is excluded.
There are a lot of questions and concerns about these new programs. We are working diligently with our companies to determine the best way to provide coverage. If you are currently using a learning pod or considering one, we highly recommend you read through the Massachusetts COVID-9 State of Emergency Orders and additional guidance on gatherings and safety protocols required. Each scenario is different, so we encourage you to contact us to discuss your situation to determine the best insurance options for you.