UNCOMMON—Insurance premiums have increased 35% for Manitoulin Centennial Manor due to COVID-19. The entire long-term care sector in Ontario has seen widespread increases, Manor Administrator Don Cook said.
“Premiums have increased significantly,” Mr Cook agreed. “This is an industry-wide decision made by insurance companies. We renewed our insurance policy and that’s what the premiums are this year.
The Manor has an insurance broker who goes around to find the best rates, but there aren’t many insurance companies that insure long-term care, he said. “With the pandemic situation, those who are there have decided that is where the insurance risk for the industry is,” Mr Cook continued. “They set the prices and unfortunately we just have to live with it.”
The Manor receives financial support from the municipalities of the Island, as a municipally funded facility, but the increase does not mean that it will request additional funds from these municipalities. “Nothing like it,” Mr Cook said. “We’re working within our budget and it’s a budget increase this year, but it’s not impossible or anything like that. We notice it in the budget, but it won’t make a big difference in our operations.”
Donna Duncan, chief executive of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association (OLTCA), which represents nearly 70 per cent of Ontario’s 630 long-term care homes, said homes across the province are also seeing increases 30 to 50% among the members. such as a marked increase in deductibles and a reduction in coverage.
“I would say the majority of long-term care homes in Ontario today have no or limited infectious disease coverage,” she said. “No homes have coverage for a pandemic and COVID-19 in particular, and a majority of homes have lost coverage for infectious diseases.”
Insurance is necessary for any necessary financing, including construction insurance, and it is important to ensure that nonprofit houses have appropriate coverage, she noted. “If you don’t have infectious disease or pandemic coverage, that has implications in terms of your advice exposure.”
The reinsurance market is global and there are only five insurance companies in Canada that insure long-term care, Duncan noted. “It’s a very limited market, so we worked with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), with the insurance companies as well as with the insurance brokers. We are all very committed. We have worked with our partners in other associations across Canada on this issue and have tried to get federal and provincial support to ensure that our long-term care homes have insurance.
Facility operators should talk to elected officials so they are aware this is a problem, Ms Duncan urged. “We need to make sure we have long-term care homes in our small communities and insurance is a big issue. We know that our small homes in small northern and rural communities in Ontario are already facing much higher costs for inflation, staffing, energy and other costs, and that’s is an additional cost that they also bear when they can least afford it.
You can’t drive a car without insurance, she pointed out. “We want to make sure that we protect our residents, we protect our staff and that we have the mechanisms in place that we can restore and rebuild the sector. Insurance isn’t so sexy, but it’s still important.
An IBC spokesperson told The Expositor: “The pandemic has revealed significant underlying issues in the long-term care sector. A number of long-term care facilities are well managed and have the appropriate strategies in place to protect their residents. But there are many others struggling to operate safely within existing government regulations to reduce the spread of contagious viruses.
“The Canadian insurance industry wants to ensure that long-term care homes can continue to provide their vital services. BAC and its members are working with stakeholders to help address the risk management challenges the pandemic has presented to the long-term care sector. Insurers want to be part of the solution to these challenges,” BAC said.
The mansion itself did not encounter any problems. To date, they have had no residents with COVID-19. “So we haven’t had any internal COVID issues,” Cook added. “We’ve had staff members who have had positives, but we haven’t had anything with residents and we haven’t had any out-of-the-ordinary staff issues.”
The mansion’s board chairman, Pat MacDonald, said staff at the home have been excellent throughout the pandemic. “I want to commend our direct and administrative care staff,” she said. “They have all gone out of their way to ensure that our residents are not suffering in any way due to the pandemic.”
Pandemic precautions remain in effect at the nursing home at this time.