The State of California does not require an assisted living facility (also known as a residential care facility for the elderly (RCFE) to carry liability insurance, either at the time the facility is licensed or any time during the life of the business. Whether a licensee (RCFE owner) carries liability insurance is entirely at the discretion of the licensee.
YET, California allows RCFEs to care for increasing numbers of hospice, bedridden, and other medically needy residents, but does not require any skilled medical professionals to be employed by the facilities. Simply put – this is a recipe for neglect and abuse. And worse, there is no reasonable mechanism for residents and their families to obtain meaningful accountability from these facilities when the resident is injured, made sick or dies at the hand of the licensee.
A judgment against an uninsured facility sued for wrongful death due to the neglect or abuse of a resident, is useless if the facility does not carry liability insurance. The facility receives a monetary judgment, but because there is no liability insurance to pay the judgment to the aggrieved family, the facility owner unable to pay the judgment – files bankruptcy. Few civil litigators will take a contingency case against an RCFE if the RCFE is uninsured. In either case, the family is left holding an empty bag.
CARR’s findings are that 87% of facilities in its database do not carry liability insurance at the time they are licensed. The odds are high that most residents in California live in facilities that do not carry liability insurance at all.
California must do a better job of protecting the frail, elderly, and medically needy residents living in assisted living. The decision to protect the elderly and their families can no longer be left to the licensee.
Mandatory Liability Insurance for RCFEs is both NECESSARY and OVERDUE! for three reasons: Moral Imperative, Accountability and Fairness.
• Moral Imperative: Elders and their families are at the mercy of uninsured RCFEs when the elder is injured, made ill, or suffers death at the hand of the licensee.
• Accountability: Current state regulations afford limited avenues for the family to hold the licensee accountable for harm suffered.
• Fairness: Why are frail elders not protected against ‘defective’ care delivered by RCFE owners?
Every licensed driver in California must carry liability insurance. Yet, over 8,000 assisted living facilities in California, carrying for 200,000 frail and medically needy residents, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without benefit of skilled medical professionals being on the staff of these facilities are exempt from carrying liability insurance.
CARR says, ENOUGH. The time for accountability is now.
For the older adult in each of us, please join CARR in demanding this common sense consumer protection for all: Require that all California residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) carry mandatory liability insurance.