Saratoga County’s liability insurance costs will rise more than 10 percent, due in part to potential liability from two unusual deaths last year at the Maplewood Manor nursing home.
The county’s current insurance carrier for the 277-bed infirmary didn’t offer to renew the policy when it expires in May, along with all the other county insurance coverage. All the county’s other liability insurance was also going to have much higher premiums.
In response, the county will switch all its coverage to a municipally owned insurance program, NYMIR. NYMIR, or the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal, offered a 10.5 percent increase over what the county is paying this year.
The county was warned by its broker in January that the Maplewood Manor insurance could be canceled, and it was formally notified Feb. 22. Insurance provider Allied World cited pending liability.
Incidents at home
There have been two deaths under unusual circumstances at Maplewood Manor in the last year, including one that has resulted in a lawsuit. There has also been a lawsuit over a resident who fell and broke a hip.
In one suit, the estate of Janice Woodley of Saratoga Springs, who was 83, contends nursing home staff accidentally gave her a dose of insulin intended for her roommate, and that resulted in her death two weeks later. An insurance settlement is being discussed in that case.
In the other death, on the night of last Dec. 21, an 85-year-old man got outside the building undetected. He subsequently died of a heart attack. To date, there is no lawsuit over that death.
Both incidents have occurred as Maplewood Manor has a high public profile, with the county pursuing plans to sell the nursing home, which loses millions of dollars each year.
The county has been paying $32,000 per year for the Maplewood Manor coverage.
“We have for years been getting a very good deal,” said county management analyst Ryan Moore. “People in the industry have told us that that’s a very cheap price for what we were getting.”
NYMIR offered a $28,000 premium for the Maplewood coverage, but the price is only that low because NYMIR got the rest of the county insurance business, too, Moore said.
NYMIR was formed in the 1980s by the state associations representing counties, cities, towns and villages to provide municipal insurance in cases where private insurance isn’t available or is prohibitively expensive. It insures more than 20 other counties, as well as hundreds of towns, villages and special districts.
“There’s not a whole lot of markets that want to insure counties,” said Wilton Supervisor Art Johnson, chairman of the county’s Personnel and Insurance Committee.
The county paid $830,242 for all liability coverage last year, and budgeted for a 5 percent increase this year. The actual increase will be 10.5 percent, to $917,542. To cover the difference, $46,224 will be drawn from the county’s contingency fund.
The insurance contracts will be considered by the Board of Supervisors on April 16. Assuming they are approved, the new contracts will go into effect May 8, when the current policies expire.