Nursing Home Insurance Policies in Florida: A Broken System
You are required to have insurance to drive your car. Shouldn’t a 120-bed nursing home caring for elderly patients be required to carry a large insurance policy? As nursing home abuse lawyers, most of our clients are shocked to learn about the lax insurance requirements that govern Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Luckily for Florida’s families, HB 1369, entitled the ‘Long Term Care Facility Responsibility’ Bill, proposes a mandatory minimum $2 million insurance policy on all Florida nursing homes. Passing this legislation would protect Florida’s most vulnerable seniors and improve care statewide.
The Current State of the Law
Florida law allows for dangerous underregulation of the long term care industry. The current Florida law vaguely requires that nursing homes “maintain liability insurance coverage that is in force at all times.”
Glaringly, current Florida law does not require a minimum amount of liability insurance for facilities. All too often, when we sue a Florida nursing home or assisted living facility, we receive a $25,000 or $50,000 ‘depleting’ insurance policy. This means that the facility’s lawyer’s bills come out of the policy before the claimant receives their settlement or verdict. Magically, the policy evaporates before the victim’s family can receive compensation.
It is insulting to think that most Floridians driving on the road have more insurance on their personal vehicle than a large nursing home caring for 100+ vulnerable, ill senior citizens.
Why Does Mandatory Insurance on Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities Matter?
It is about accountability. With grossly under-insured nursing homes, a facility’s owners can literally kill residents with civil impunity. If John and Jane own XYZ, Inc. nursing home and wrongfully kill 8 residents, the XYZ corporation can be held accountable in a Florida nursing home abuse lawsuit. The civil cases against the nursing home will likely result in multi-million dollar judgments. If the facility is under-insured (i.e. has a $50,000 depleting insurance policy), John and Jane can simply close down XYZ, Inc. and avoid paying on the judgments. With some creative accounting, John and Jane can then open ABC, Inc., open a ‘new’ nursing home facility and perpetuate the cycle of nursing home abuse and neglect. This corporate whack a mole is no different than the sleight-of-hand shell game you’ve seen pushed by street hustlers in public parks.
If Florida nursing homes are required to carry at least $2 million of insurance, this would ensure that facility owners cannot escape liability by playing a corporate shell game. This is why the Long Term Care Responsibility bill is so critical to fixing Florida’s broken long term care industry.
Quick Facts on Florida’s Long Term Care Industry
Mandatory $2 million liability policies for every Florida nursing home will ensure accountability and responsibility when a facility negligently harms a resident. If there is any state in the U.S. that should protect its senior citizens, it should be Florida.
Despite this, the following is true of the Sunshine State’s long term care industry:
- Most nursing homes and assisted living facilities are owned by out-of-state limited liability companies. The listed owners of these companies are usually other limited liability companies.
- Most facilities are part of a larger corporate chain. Rarely are facilities singularly owned and operated. This means the owners do not work in the facilities they operate, creating a disconnect between those creating the policies/budget and those providing the actual care.
- More than 80% of nursing home abuse and neglect does not get reported.
- 73,000 Floridians live in nursing homes. More than 100,000 live in assisted living facilities.
- By 2040, Florida will have more than 6.7 million residents age 65 or older.
If you hurt someone in your car, you can be held accountable. Your car insurer will pay the injured party for the harm you caused. If a hospital commits malpractice, their multi-million dollar insurance policy will cover the loss. Why should we allow negligent nursing homes to escape responsibility for the harm they cause?
A mandatory $2 million insurance policy on long term care facilities ensures accountability. Contact your state representative today and let them know you support HB 1369.
The full text of the proposed bill can be found here.« Previous PostNext Post »