Risk Retention Group to Provide Malpractice Insurance to Florida Nurses

Florida Nurses Association Endorses New Insurer


Sophia Palmer Nurses Risk Retention Group, Inc. will offer malpractice insurance to Florida nurses in partnership with the Florida Nurses Association (FNA), Barbara Lumpkin, RN, FNA Associate Executive Director, and Kathi Cavallo, RN, CLC, President, Uni-Ter Risk Management Services, announced.

The newly formed Risk Retention Group (RRG) was capitalized by Ponce de Leon LTC RRG, Inc., a major provider of professional liability insurance to long-term care facilities in Florida. The Uni-Ter Group of Atlanta, GA, a subsidiary of New York-based U.S. RE Companies, an international financial services and reinsurance brokerage firm, will manage Sophia Palmer.

Named after Sophia Palmer, a founding member of the American Nurses Association, the RRG will be owned by nurses who become shareholders in the Company. It was formed to meet the nursing profession’s urgent need for affordable, reliable malpractice insurance. The Nurse’s Service Organization reported in 2005 that Florida had the highest number of malpractice claims in the nation against nurses.

“Because of increased claims activity for Nurse Practitioners and Physician’s Assistants, many insurance carriers have pulled out of Florida, and all have gone from offering an Occurrence Policy to a Claims Made Policy,” Cavallo said.

Sophia Palmer will offer limits of $100,000 per event up to $250,000 aggregate for a policy year, or $250,000/$750,000. Members of the Florida Nurses Association will receive a 10 percent discount. “Sophia Palmer will offer competitive rates because it has no history of large claims over several years. In fact, the rate for an Occurrence policy for a Nurse Practitioner is similar to or less than the current rate for a less desirable Claims Made policy offered by other carriers in the State,” according to Cavallo.

In order to be insured by Sophia Palmer, nurses must buy stock in the Company. Advanced Practice Nurses and Physicians Assistants will pay 40 percent of their first year’s premium, payable over three years, to become shareholders. All other categories of nurses will buy two shares of stock at $25 per share.

“The FNA Board and staff are very pleased with the products and options offered to RNs and Nurse Practitioners. We are truly excited because Sophia Palmer will offer both a Claims Made Policy and an Occurrence Policy,” Lumpkin said. “As a general rule, Occurrence Policies are preferred because the policy will pay on an incident that occurs anytime during the life of the policy, while a Claims Made Policy pays only if the claim is made while the policy is in effect. Claims can often be made a few years after the incident,” Lumpkin added.

Ponce de Leon LTC RRG, Inc. was formed four years ago to provide a market for long-term care facilities that are required to have general and professional liability insurance but could not obtain the coverage from traditional insurers who were withdrawing from this line of business or pricing the product out of reach of most operators. Today, Ponce de Leon is a market leader in Florida with more than 700 facilities insured.

Ed Taylor, Board Chairman of Ponce de Leon, said, “Our Board is pleased to provide a Surplus Note to help launch Sophia Palmer because our facilities face a looming shortage of qualified nurses to maintain our high standards of care if they cannot obtain affordable liability insurance protection.”

Sanford Elsass, President/CEO of The Uni-Ter Group, which manages Sophia Palmer and Ponce de Leon, said, “We believe the combined effect of providing stable, affordable liability and malpractice insurance to long-term care facilities and our important Directors of Nursing will assure high standards of care. Plus, our risk management services and aggressive claims management will reduce losses and cause trial lawyers to look elsewhere for deep pockets.”

Sophia Palmer offers malpractice insurance to: Medical Assistants, Certified Nursing Assistants, Licensed Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, and Physicians’ Assistants. In order to qualify, Nurse Practitioners and Certified Nurse Midwives must be working under the general supervision of a physician.

“Online continuing education sessions will be available for insureds at no added cost. Several courses related to risk management will be included as part of the insurance agreement between the Sophia Palmer RRG and the insured,” Cavallo pointed out.
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