Back to news

Making An Impact - Episode 3 Insurance for Disability Providers

  • Providers,
  • insurance

Tony Andronaco of Risk Strategies Insurance discusses controlling property and casualty insurance premiums during COVID for disability providers.


Premiums are increasing by 20% or more, and deductibles for a property, D&O, and workers' compensation are increasing.  Insurers are limiting coverage for communicable diseases (COVID) and abuse/molestation and COVID has made P&C insurance purchasing very difficult for human services firms. 

Tony provides insights and information to help human service providers manage their insurance needs.


About Risk Strategies pdf

About Risk Strategies Insurance for Human Service Firms Fact Sheet






Jason Hare  0:03 
Hello, everybody, my name is Jason Hare, and welcome back to Making An Impact.

Tony  Andronaco 0:15 
Again, thank you all for joining us on Making An Impact, a series of conversations hosted by Scioto Properties, that center in and around the disability community. Today we'll be talking about a very necessary aspect to every provider organization, insurance. Specifically controlling property and casualty premiums during COVID. To help us with our discussion, we'll be joined by Tony Andronaco, Managing Director and Senior VP at Risk Strategies, which is one of the nation's largest privately-held insurance brokers and consulting firms. Tony, it's great to have you.

Jason, thank you so much. I'm so glad to be here, especially in Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Jason Hare  0:53 
Oh, that's a great point. Well, here's why Tony makes a great guest to have for this topic, which admittedly, I know nothing about. As a social and human services practice leader, Tony is the former director of risk and insurance for The Mentor Network, which is also known as Civitas Solutions, the country's largest human service firm. Tony designed the risk and insurance platform that Mentor still uses today. So he knows what he's doing. Not only that, Risk Strategies is exclusively devoted to firms that provide services to individuals who are developmentally delayed, those with brain injuries, at-risk youth, foster care, medically fragile children, and elderly and Adult Day health. Risk Strategies has developed risk and insurance solutions for every service model, group home, supported living, ICF/MR, day activity center, therapeutic foster care, vocational center, and specialty school. So it stands to reason that if we're going to do an episode on insurance that's making an impact in the disability community, we're going to talk to Tony and Risk Strategies. So with that said, let's just jump right in. Tony, I'm going to start off on some super basic questions. First, what sets you apart? And why is it important that a human service provider work with an insurance firm that's exclusively focused on their risk needs?

Tony Andronaco  2:10 
Yeah, thank you, Jason. And thank you for that intro. Because you really nailed it. My entire practice, what I do at Risk Strategies focuses on human services and, and social services. So it's placing insurance for these types of firms. And as you mentioned, it could be group homes, foster homes, daycare centers, senior living, assisted living, you name it. I'm in the insurance marketplace on a daily basis, placing coverage for these types of firms. And when I say that, I'm talking about ...from California, all the way east. I mean, I have clients all across the country, because, believe it or not, I know, everyone wants to believe that you can kind of just buy insurance from anywhere, like from that little Gecko guy on TV, it only takes 15 minutes, and you get the same, same answer. When it comes to human services, it's really not that simple. It's a very nuanced industry. You know, it's got elements of healthcare, you know, you're handling people, you' know, some of the employees are driving their own vehicles on company business, you know, it's really complex. And... I think each human services firm really needs a broker who understands those nuances, and they can represent them in the marketplace. And as you also mentioned, because I used to work for the Mentor Network, the country's largest human services firm, and honestly, they like you are still a client today. I have access to every possible insurance market, that a human services ..I'm sorry company could possibly need. And I think that is really a very big part of why we're so good at what we do and why our client roster is so large.

Jason Hare  3:57 
Right. And so, kind of looking at things through a COVID lens. Why is selecting the proper insurance broker more important now than ever?

Tony  Andronaco 4:09 
Yeah, that's another really good question. And it's always been difficult. The insurance market has been hard for the last two years. And when we say hard, all that really means is that insurance premiums are going up. And capacity or the amount of limits insurance companies are willing to put up is going down. So you're...that's kind of that was the initial head one, and then COVID happens, right? So what happens when you have any type of this catastrophic event where insurance companies, they... don't know what the future holds. They don't know what liabilities they're going to have on their balance sheet. They don't know if the government's going to force them, you know, to pay claims. They don't know if this, you know, states are going to mandate that, you know, every worker's compensation claim that's presented is gonna be just presumed to be a worker's compensation type. incident. So there, they're faced with all these unknowns. And when insurance companies are faced with unknowns, premiums go up, and there's just there's no way around it. So what I've seen over the last year, and believe it or not, your... today's the 13th right? So, I think it's been almost a year to the day where we've kind of been dealing with this pandemic. So what I've seen over the last year is, you know, premium increases, at least at the beginning, where the initial salvo from the insurance company has been as high as 50% rate increase, or to put a communicable disease exclusion on the policy, or they're, they're changing the abuse, molestation limits, that type of thing. So the insurance companies are really, really cutting back on what they're willing to cover. And they're increasing pricing. And if you don't have a broker who has enough weight, or you know, enough premium volume with each of these insurance companies, where you can leverage that, you're really at the mercy of the insurance market. And when it comes to human services firms, that's really not where you want to be.

Jason Hare  6:01 
Right. And so essentially, we're seeing premiums rise, because insurance companies can't necessarily predict the future, when we're in a global pandemic, it's kind of becoming more unsettled. So their way of compensating for that is to raise their insurance premiums.

Tony  Andronaco 6:19 
Correct. And the reason why I'm so passionate about it, Jason is, again, because I've been associated with so many of these firms for so long, I know that every additional dollar they need to spend on insurance is one that takes away from say, programming, or you know, direct service provider wages, you know, something that's really more important than paying insurance premiums. So you have to have the right broker in place so that you can really stave off these huge increases.

You know, Tony, it's kind of a timely conversation that we're having, because we spoke to Kate McNulty from the ANCOR Network, last episode, and we were talking about the Case for Inclusion. And in typical years past that the Case for Inclusion, they would look at kind of what states need to do, or what states are doing. But they pivoted this year to focus specifically on the ramifications of the COVID- 19 pandemic, and all of the associated costs with overtime, and what the Biden administration and Congress needs to do to keep providers on solid ground. So I think that you're talking about this right very relatable terms of every dollar spent somewhere, we'll say, overhead, like insurance, is $1, that is taking away from being able to be on solid ground. And that's a very, real thing that I think a lot of providers are feeling right now. So ...

Yeah, and I'm sure, I've seen it firsthand where you have to make really hard decisions on do I, you know, do I buy less limits, because I can't afford the limits that I... that I want. And I know for human services firms that a lot of times, they have to comply with, you know, their state contracts, or whoever the funding contract is, the state or the regional center, and they're forced with some hard decisions, because they don't know, with their margins so slim already, they don't know where that money is coming from the pay for these increased premiums. So if I can help keep those premiums down and keep the limits where they have to be so that they can continue operations, you know, I want to help people do that.

Jason Hare  8:27 
Right. So not to put you on the spot, but how is it... or I guess how easy is it for somebody to do an exploratory call with you to look at their premiums and you know, what does somebody needs to do to look at what their organization might be able to save compared to what they are currently doing?

Tony  8:50 
Yeah, and that it really is super easy. I think people that I know, insurance can be intimidating, or what have you. But it really is super simple. If and anyone who wants to talk with me, I think you'll give out my email and my phone number, and just give me a call my cell number is I always have my cell on, feel free to call me at that number and email me. And really, it's going to take no more than the initial, you know, call will be maybe a half an hour, where I'm asking just simple questions about who their insurers are, the limits they purchase if they have a summary of insurance. And you know, I'll get an idea as to whether or not I think I can help. And honestly, if I don't think I can help if I think they're in a good place, I'll tell them that. But if I do think I can help. You know, again, I'm I would like to make that offer because I really think there's a lot of firms out there that could probably use Risk Strategies help.

Jason Hare  9:44 
I feel like that is so valuable having that honest review of a provider's policy and reassuring them that yes, this looks great. Or maybe pointing out an area or two where they can use help is again super valuable. Well now let's go to a happy place. Let's talk about a world post-COVID. Do you think that policyholders will have to consider a future pandemic risk coverage?

Tony Andronaco  10:08 
You know, it's a great question. And, you know, I think what I've seen, or what I've learned at Risk Strategies is that, that, you know, one day this is going to be over, but the the effects are going to last for a while. And I think one of the last acts is going to be what happens around communicable diseases. You know, I think, as I mentioned, a lot of insurance companies are trying to make that type of an exclusion, right, so they're thinking they don't want to cover this on the liability side, going forward. And that's a huge concern for me, for my human services clients, because the very nature of the business is to provide care for people, you're in groups, or group homes, or, you know, there's, ...on a 10-15 consumers in a room, and plus three or four employees. You know, that there's a lot of people, I'll say exposed at the same time. So not having that communicable disease coverage is going to be a real issue. I think, end of the day, that insurance companies won't be successful having that type of an exclusion, because I think the the public good, the public safety kind of demands it. We just have to have it. I don't know what happened, you know, to pricing. Maybe, you know, we'll go up. But I think to answer your question that we're going to be dealing with this for years to come, you know, does, does COVID truly, you know, ever go away? Does, is there a what is the next pandemic, how our insurance company is going to treat that, you know, if you don't get the policy coverage right now, then, you know, we're going to have this issue every time there's another hiccup in the marketplace.

Jason Hare  11:47 
Yeah, that's, that's super interesting about that, that's even sort of floating out there as a part of the conversation that an insurance company could potentially try to limit communicable disease coverage. I'm, I'm actually surprised that that's even sort of, in the conversations sphere.

Tony  Andronaco 12:06 
Yeah, and I have to say, there's been a few renewals recent ones, where I've had, I've had to deal with that, and Risk Strategies, and I have had to, you know, put up our best defense to make sure that that exclusion doesn't stick. But again, I do think going forward, that it's going to be a constant battle, until we're, you know, a few years removed from this pandemic, or, you know, and hoping that there's not another one, because I think that, you know, that's only going to complicate this going forward as well.

Jason Hare  12:35  
Right. And that's another reason you knowing the industry as intimately as you do that you're essentially advocating on their behalf are really looking at what they need to have in their coverage. And kind of leads me into the next question is, with a current insurance coverage that a provider might have, are there any considerations that you think they should review with what they might have currently?

Tony  Andronaco 13:01 
I think that's a very important question. Because, you know, insurance coverage is something that changes really annually, right, as you negotiate your next renewal policy. There's always things that are changing. And I think as it relates to human services, you have to make money or you have to look at your policies to make sure that you know, because there's always a standard limit of insurance, right. And it's usually for human services. It's 1 million per occurrence, 3 million in the aggregate. But insurance companies will do things like they'll sublimit things like abuse or molestation, they'll make that half a million per occurrence, 1 million in the aggregate, or, you know, how are they treating things like innocent employee defense, which Jason is, which is critical, because employees need to be defended, until that point that we know that, hey, you know, they're guilty and a defense isn't, isn't necessary. But without that, these poor people who are just trying to do their job, you know what, I have a coverage if the wrong wrongfully sued...

Jason Hare  14:03 

Tony  Andronaco 14:03 
I think another thing is looking at the auto policy, and how is the human services firms auto policy, dealing with things like non-owned auto because as I mentioned, a lot of DSPs, they're using their personal vehicle on company business. And what you want to have happen is you want to make sure that your insurance, the Human Services, firms, insurance is going to provide excess insurance above whatever limits the direct service employee has. And you know, unless you really dive into these policies to understand what's covered, you really can't answer those questions. But that's something that myself and my team can do very, very easily.

Jason Hare  14:40 
This is astonishing. As I mentioned at the open, this is an area that I know literally nothing about, and you're opening my eyes to panacea - if I can use that word - of all of the things that... organizations need to think about and it's it's overwhelming me just sitting here. So again, I can't imagine being an executive having to think about all of the different aspects of coverage. Is there anything else that providers should be thinking about as it relates to their property and casualty insurance?

Tony  Andronaco 15:13 
I think overall, I mean, I've said it before, I'm gonna say it again, the ...the firm brokering your business really does matter. And it's not nearly as hard to make a change as people think. But unless you have an insurance broker who has enough weight, you know, premium volume with the insurance companies that write this business, and remember Jason, there's not that many. And by the way, I think about a year ago, we had one less one Markel loss um,  left the industry, there's fewer and fewer players. So if your broker doesn't have the weight with these insurance companies, then you're kind of at their mercy. Contrastly, though, if you're with a broker that does have enough premium volume, where, where the insurance company, they don't want to make a wrong decision on one account, because they know it's gonna affect 50 other accounts, you know, that's just a better place to be. If you're the buyer of insurance.

Jason Hare  16:09 
Right. And I think you guys are the 11th largest privately held us broker with over two and a half billion dollars in annual premium. So you're pretty big player, it's safe to say.

Were a big player, and again, for human services. This is all I do. And , and honestly, I don't know if this is factual enough, but I think I believe I'm the only broker out there who has such a long standing relationship as an as an ex-employee, as an ex-purchaser of insurance for human services firm. And ...or the way I like to describe it, Jason is like, you know, I'm a buy-sider, right? Now I'm selling insurance, but I come at it from the buy-side angle, meaning I used to sit in the shoes of risk managers, or CFO, is that human services firms now, right? I mean, I know what it's like to make those tough decisions to make those purchasing decisions. You know, how to roll up my sleeves and get inside the policy. So I know, and I can tell my board what is or isn't covered. I really do think it sets us apart,

 I would be giving you a call if I was a provider.

Tony  Andronaco 17:11 
 So thank you for that. I appreciate it.

Jason Hare  17:13 
Yeah, this has been very eye opening, Tony. And I want to thank you again, for coming and sharing your knowledge with us. Again, it's been illuminating for me. And I'm excited to be able to share some of your experience and contact information with the providers that we work with and people who listen to this podcast because I think that even just reviewing what they currently have makes sense because we're going into a new way of looking at coverages. And, you know, making sure that you're covered overall is going to be more important now than ever.

Tony  Andronaco 17:49 
I absolutely agree. And thank you so much for giving me this forum. I'd be happy you're more than happy to help anyone who thinks they need me and Risk Strategies.

Jason Hare  17:58 
Awesome. Well, thanks again, Tony. And thanks to everybody who's tuned in to listen, we're gonna have a breakdown of this conversation and more information about Tony and Risk Strategies uploaded to our blog at That's S-C-I-O-T-O dot com.  You can visit their website at risk-dash strategies-dot-com ( to learn more about their practice. If you're a provider and are thinking, hmmm, I should really have a conversation with Tony. We will include his contact information on the podcast page so you can reach out directly and you can discuss your organization's specific needs. And finally, make sure to sign up for our email list to ensure you're up to date on our new podcasts. And until next time, remember to make an impact with everything that you do. Again, I'm Jason Hare, have a great week. So long, everybody!

Contact information
Tony Andronaco
Managing Director and Senior VP & Human Practice Leader 
Risk Strategies

email Tony
cell: 603-502-0295