Krista Mayes, director of the addiction treatment provider program of NSM insurance, group, talked recently about the importance of prevention for opioid treatment programs (OTPs). Speaking at the April 10 Open Board meeting which ended the first day of the meeting of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD), Ms. Mayes focuses on keeping members informed about liability, said Mark Parrino, AATOD president, introducing her. “NSM is committed to having the best products in the addiction treatment community,” said Mr. Parrino, noting that NSM was a sponsor of the open board meeting.
In the business of treatment and recovery as an insurance provider for 15 years, NSM’s goals “is to be a resource to you and to all of the members,” said Ms. Mayes, speaking to the AATOD board of directors. “Slip, trip and fall” is something all businesses deal with, but for OTPs, a big concern is professional liability claims, which account for 22 percent of all claims within the OTPs covered by NSM. Of these, 55% are wrongful death claims.
“We try to avoid those wrongful death claims,” said Ms. Mayes, adding that there are basic ways to do so, in terms of the enforcement and documentation of proper procedures in OTPs. Implementing risk management is therefore a major priority, and this involves active communication by management to staff, she said.
“Nobody likes to think about insurance, but it is the biggest number on your balance sheets,” she said. “Documenting that you follow, and enforce, what you put into place makes the difference in providing valuable grounds for defense.” The high dollar claims that attorneys tend to gravitate towards are those involving wrongful death and abuse, she said.
The consequences of not following good risk management – which NSM can share with participating OTPs – are severe: high insurance premiums, difficulty getting any insurance at all, and a disruption to business (it’s hard to keep providing services if you’re being sued).
What’s new in 2021 is a hardening insurance market – meaning that insurance will be much easier to get and much less expensive for the lowest risk clients. “The market will always ebb and flow, and in a hardening market, those who mitigate frequently will be most attractive to insurance providers and will receive the best rates,” said Ms. Mayes.
“From our perspective, as underwriters, looking back at 2020, there has been a significant increase in telehealth services,” she noted. “We’ve seen this across the board, and it’s been a godsend to the community.”
And more good news for OTPs in last year’s numbers:
- no increase in our claims occurrence rate, especially no increase in the OTP sector, and
- no uptick in attrition for OTP policies (in other words, no cancellation of policies that would indicate OTPs going out of business)
For the OTP field as a whole, this is very positive, said Ms. Mayes. “This tells us as underwriters assessing risk and viability of these businesses is that you all have pivoted and rallied to adjust, and that makes us proud to serve you.”
Mr. Parrino concluded by saying that in October of 2019, at AATOD’s last national meeting, nobody could have anticipated COVID-19 or known how long it could have gone on. Fortunately, he added, there is now light at the end of the tunnel, with more people getting vaccinated.