* Two brothers are allowed to play in the child care providers' computer room/office to watch TV. After they left, the provider found her jewelry box dumped on the floor, and her wedding ring and high school class ring missing. She recovered the high school ring, but the wedding rings were thrown away by the boys, afraid they wouldn't get caught.
* A boy stole music cds from the child care provider. The provider's husband made a list of the 18 missing cds and went to the parents' home. He told the parents that he would file a police report unless they were returned. All but 3 were returned within 3o minutes.
What can child care providers do in these situations?
Providers should keep any valuable personal items locked or hidden away, or in rooms that are off limits to the children.
Providers can put in their policies that parents are responsible to pay for broken or stolen property.
If the stolen item was used in her business, a provider can deduct the cost of replacing it. If the item stolen was personal, the provider cannot deduct the cost to replace it.
If the provider is not sure of who stole from her, and the parents are not cooperative, she can file a police report and let them investigate.
What about insurance?
A provider's business liability insurance policy will not cover claims for stolen items. However, a provider's homeowners insurance policy will cover such theft. Unfortunately, the insurance deductible is probably at least $250, so this will not help with small losses.
Elizabeth Downs, an insurance agent with New England Insurance Services, Inc., offers this advice:
"Unless the child stole a diamond engagement ring she should let "Back Pocket Mutual" pay this claim. Small nuisance claims show up on the CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) reports. CLUE reports indicate all claims filed by individuals over their lifetime. The more claims you make, the less likely a new insurance company will offer insurance."
"If you can self-insure on the small claims, you are in a much better position when the big claim hits. So, we tell our customers to pay for small losses themselves, and wait to submit claims when the roof is blown off, a pipe bursts in the basement, or a grease fire eats your kitchen."
In summary: Keep your valuables hidden. If something is stolen, talk with the parents to recover the stolen items. If the parents don't cooperate, you can call the police or not. If you don't recover the items, replace them yourself. Don't make an insurance claim unless the item is very valuable.
See this Facebook discussion for more.
Have you had children steal from you, and if so, what have you done?
Image credit: haynesunited.org
For more information, see my book Family Child Care Legal and Insurance Guide.