by Andrew Walden
Secrecy is the name of the game at Hawaii Child Welfare Services. Even the insurance policies are twisted into a pretzel to keep CWS’ secrets.
The Department of Human Services provides private liability insurance to the roughly 980 licensed foster care families in Hawaii. The coverage is written by Brown and Brown which bought out locally owned Servco Pacific insurance in 2018.
Reportedly costing DHS $250K a year, the policy covers up to $100K of legal defense costs for foster parents accused of “sexual abuse or behavior intended to lead to or culminating in any sexual act” or “actual or threatened physical abuse, whether or not sexual in nature.”
The policy also provides up to $300K liability coverage for “bodily injury or property damage” -- but specifically excludes any liability coverage for sexual or physical abuse, leaving the taxpayers on the hook for damages.
Accused molesters get well-funded legal representation but no insurance money for a settlement.
How does this arrangement help CWS keep its secrets?
Unlike CWS, a private insurer funding a lawsuit settlement has less incentive to keep the settlements secret. In fact they may feel incentivized to expose CWS wrongdoing in order to force the agency to clean up its act. The insurer might actually demand the CWS involvement be exposed rather than paying for child molestation again and again without any improvement in the underlying situation.
By keeping private insurers out of settlement negotiations, CWS, via the Attorney General’s Office, fork out untold millions of taxpayer dollars to ensure that settlements do not involve revealing CWS secrets.
PDF: Hawaii Foster Care Insurance Policies