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Private liability

Children on a journey of discovery

Children can’t be completely cocooned. And as they get bigger and more independent, they start to spend more and more time out and about without their parents. So who is liable if something happens at school or during their leisure time? Find out more about insurance coverage for children.

4 september 2020, text: Hansjörg Ryser, photo: Depositphotos

Two little kid boys with bicycles in autumn park

Whether in class or during break-time at school, whether at a sports club or on a scouting trip: children are often out and about without their parents and want to discover the world on their own or with friends. And there’s always the risk that something may happen. In the event of accidents or mishaps it’s often unclear who has to pay for any damage and this often leads to legal disputes. The financial impact can be huge, particularly if someone is injured or indeed is left with permanent health impairments.

Cost of treatment for accidents

If your child has an accident, the cost of medical treatment will be covered by their health insurer’s accident insurance. However, the most latter can do is make claims against the school or club if the accident happened as a result of a possible breach of their duty of care or supervision. If, for example, defective playground equipment leads to an accident, the owner will be liable for damage caused due to faulty design or construction, or inadequate maintenance. It is also important to keep all documents relating to any injury, especially in the case of damage to teeth.

Creating the best conditions

Parents can do their bit to help prevent accidents from happening as far as possible by choosing a safe route with their children and accompanying them the first few times they go to school. They can ensure that their children are proficient cyclists, have a roadworthy bicycle to ride and wear high-visibility outer clothing, especially at times of the year when light levels are low.

Third-party liability in the case of children

Parents teach their children not to cause any harm to other children or adults, whether at school, in a club or on the way there. If a child has an accident and someone else suffers damage as a result, the financial consequences are usually covered by the family’s third-party liability insurance. The prerequisite for this, though, is that the child was capable of judgement and the parents breached their duty of supervision.

However, it’s also clear that parents can’t monitor every move their children make. If the parents could not reasonably be expected to exercise supervision, if the child was only slightly to blame for the damage, or was not yet capable of making a judgement, the insurance company can reject the claim as unjustified. In such cases the parents do not have to answer for the damage. However, many insurance companies, including Helvetia for example, also cover insured losses even where children were not capable of making a judgement. In addition, they also offer voluntary liability so that, for example, damage can be covered for the sake of remaining on good terms with neighbours.