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Abuse and Molestation Coverage: An Unfortunate Must-Have

By Morgan P. Mahoney

Many of us became aware of Diana Nyad after she famously swam from Cuba to Florida in 2013. Nyad recently made headlines again after she penned a powerful op-ed in which she wrote about being sexually abused by a former swim coach when she was 14.

The coach, she claimed, repeatedly abused her in his car and on trips to big swim meets – allegations he denied until his death in 2014.

The problem, of course, isn’t new, though society today is far more attuned to it, thanks to better awareness.

Helping focus attention on the issue, the Colorado School Safety Resource Center this fall hosted a day of training on child sexual abuse prevention. The core of the program focused on identifying, preventing, responding and reporting suspected child sexual abuse.

The website for Stop It Now, an organization dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse, is filled with articles, prevention tips and other advice that can help.

Stop It Now, one of many organizations dedicated to the cause, says there are behaviors that we can watch out for when adults are with children -- behaviors that routinely disrespect or ignore boundaries that help protect children from abuse.

“Do you know an adult or older child,” it asks on its website, “who doesn’t seem to understand what’s acceptable?”

Studies show that in as many as nine out of 10 cases, kids don’t tell anyone when they are being sexually abused. It’s up to adults to recognize behaviors that make kids vulnerable to sexual abuse.

Such behavior includes using teasing or belittling language to keep a child from setting social, emotional or physical boundaries and limits.

It also includes:

Turning to a child for emotional or physical comfort by sharing personal or private information or activities;

spending uninterrupted time alone with a child;

allowing children or teens to consistently get away with inappropriate behaviors;

frequently pointing out sexual images or telling dirty or suggestive jokes with children present.

Schools, of course, work hard to protect their students. To help schools better protect themselves, there’s sexual misconduct and molestation insurance.

Such coverage reimburses schools for civil litigation defense expenses, including binding arbitration costs. That’s critical given that a claim of sexual abuse can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take months to defend – even if it’s without merit.

Sexual misconduct policies also cover volunteer workers, as well as teachers and other employees. The limits of such policies should be separate from those in a school’s general liability policy.

It’s important to note that childcare providers who are insured through their homeowner’s policy will not have coverage for abuse and molestation claims. Even a school insured through a commercial policy may not have the right or adequate levels of coverage.

And remember, if the abuse is an intentional act, no insurer will cover the employee individually, although it will cover the school and its owners – even if the plaintiffs can prove negligence in hiring or supervision practices.

Morgan P. Mahoney, an Insurance Advisor at CCIG, handles the risk management and insurance needs of commercial childcare and school accounts. Reach him at 720-330-7926 or MorganM@thinkccig.com.

Note: Most insurance companies will not extend coverage for abuse and molestation unless risk management



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