A Service Provider’s Dilemma with Insurance

I would really appreciate some dialogue concerning a situation I find myself in as a therapist and director of a small day program for verbal adults on the autism spectrum in Toronto. I have a clinic type setting in a separated apartment in my home. There are three modest sensory rooms, concentrating on sensory dysfunction, developing activity/sensory type diets, using community resources to expand the interests of participants. Essentially I work in a 1:1 ratio.

I am having difficulty obtaining insurance because of the population I work with. I could have a day care in my home, for neurotypical children-- even with no separation between my living space and working space--without its affecting my home insurance policy.  But as soon as I say "special needs" children or "special needs adults", my broker tells me that my home insurance policy (general liability) will be canceled.  This is even though I have obtained professional (malpractice) insurance, usually termed errors and omissions, from CARP (Canadian Association of Rehabilitation Professionals).  "Someone who is known as special needs might slip and fall on my driveway and sue the insurance company".... I have applied to a high risk insurance company in Toronto and they have turned me down (they won't cover a residence and business in the same building) and are more diplomatic and refer me back to CARP. CARP has added another option, just recently, in introducing commercial general liability and I have applied for this. However, my broker says that my home insurance policy will still be canceled because if there is a claim then the "courts" will "go after" even more money because I am insured with two companies. (Not really of course, as CARP would be insuring the business premise).

That one of my other friends might come to visit my residence and slip and fall and sue has no bearing on the issue. I had asked what if I have a special needs friend visiting who is not a client and there was no response.  There is a great hesitation to express what is being said on the phone in writing....I document and send over faxes to say “this is what we have talked about" etc... But they do not reciprocate although my written material does go to the underwriter, I am told...The real irony of this is that my broker has two children with ASD. Her opinion is that the government should be running such a venture and that the solution is to rent space from the government. 

The area that I have organized to work in is a three-bedroom apartment (approx.1000 sq feet) that had been rented out over the last 18 years. My home policy covered anyone who rented and in my experience many a tenant could be diagnosed with one character disorder or another.
They certainly were unpredictable (which is the argument often used for ASD) folk. The former bedrooms are sensory rooms...and there is a computer and I work with digital equipment for feedback on their behaviour....maybe tape a role play....use clay work, and I have a membership at the YMCA because there is a great track, and super machines that give an alternative to the rocking. So.we are out more than we are in.

I love what I am creating as possibilities for the few people I see. At present I serve one woman of 28 with ASD (5 days a week) and one man about 40 with Down Syndrome male (once a week)..  The man was referred to me because since his father's death he began hitting others at his day program. Although he had previously actively sought out pleasure in art and music, he stopped, and wouldn't participate in group activities.  So with some sensory suggestion to the day program which were implemented, and a day with me just doing art and clay work, adding music, and now this week starting rug hooking, he is no longer non-compliant with his program (4 days a week) is calmer at home, and participated (limited role) in a play with his peers...

The municipal bylaws here do allow what I pursuing, but limit the number of unrelated people to four individuals at a time. I can occasionally exceed this, as when I invite another day program to visit my clients for social skills etc, and to use the sensory rooms. There may be two visitors plus a staff member, who stay for an hour or two and then leave. So I OK with the legally with all that, as I looked into it before I decided to create a stationary space and not keep moving "my trade" in pullmans going to clients’ homes) I had also investigated this through my broker and initially she thought it wouldn't be a problem.  

Has anyone else experienced issues with insurance in servicing from a residence...and if so how was it solved.   I was told by my agent that everyone who is doing therapeutic work from a home office is at risk, and consequently could receive notice of cancellation of their home insurance coverage.  But having a clinic out of a residence, or beside a residence, means we can keep the fee reasonable. How will small services providing therapeutic support to adults with ASD have an opportunity to develop critical theory and provide alternative treatments to the 6:1 ratio in day programs?