When Insurance Wouldn’t Back This Mental Health Nonprofit, the NIA Stood Up to Fill in the Gap

Oregon-based nonprofit organization Albertina Kerr’s exposure profile became too risky for its previous insurer. That’s when NIA stepped in.
By: | January 11, 2023

A nonprofit organization’s quest to find affordable and adequate commercial insurance coverage is no easy feat — which is why Nonprofits Insurance Alliance (NIA) was founded.

In this seriesRisk & Insurance®, in collaboration with NIA, spoke to five nonprofit organizations — all with out-of-the-ordinary risk profiles and inspiring stories — to discuss the hurdles that come with securing necessary coverage at an acceptable price.

We spoke with Matthew Warner, chief people and administration officer of Oregon-based organization Albertina Kerr, to learn more about the organization and its journey toward fulfilling its insurance coverage needs with NIA.

Albertina Kerr’s Mission and Work

The work of Albertina Kerr is twofold: addressing the needs of those with intellectual development disabilities and combating childhood mental health struggles. By addressing both, the mission of Albertina Kerr not only centers the empowerment of people with IDDs and mental health disorders but also enables them to live life to the fullest life and reach their utmost potential.

With a mission as impactful as Albertina Kerr’s, the services it requires to fulfill its promises can be extensive.

These services include around-the-clock care; small community group homes that house adults, adolescents and children; and specialized programs for children with mental health problems. Additionally, Albertina Kerr has an established 24-bed psychiatric facility to provide services such as “clinical mental health treatments and other supports for those populations,” according to Warner.

For those it serves in the adult population, Albertina Kerr ensures that employment and support services are available, and also offers job skills, coaching, and development and placement services.

“Really, disability is a lifelong status, so that is the population we serve,” Warner said.

The risks and exposures associated with Albertina Kerr and its work centrally surround the safety of both its employees and its served population. This includes safety within its operating group homes and psychiatric facility, as well as managing the risks that come with administering health care services.

“[These risks] are all in addition to the normal commercial risks that you’d see,” Warner noted. “We have the everyday risks, but we also have those really specific, [niche] risks.”

The Organization and NIA

Though Albertina Kerr’s relationship with Nonprofits Insurance Alliance predates Warner’s tenure with the organization, the importance of NIA’s presence could not be understated. Warner discussed Albertina Kerr’s introduction to the Alliance, which initially came to fruition 20 years ago.

“My understanding is that, at the time, [Albertina Kerr] was [being insured] by a private insurer that worked extensively with nonprofits,” Warner said. “Our risks started to move outside of what they were comfortable insuring at that time.”

Warner noted that the addition of the organization’s early childhood and foster care services shifted its profile to land outside its previous insurer’s risk threshold.

At this time, NIA was shifting its capabilities into the Oregon market, and Albertina Kerr was able to begin discussions with the insurer.

“[The alliance] has been a good partner in terms of understanding our business, our risk and the fiscal environment in which we operate,” Warner said.

Additionally, the alliance has been integral in assisting Albertina Kerr, not just with insuring its risks but also with avoiding potential exposures.

“They’ve been able to partner with us in terms of risk avoidance,” he said. “The services they offer around consulting, connecting us with specialist consultants — it’s not something we would have had on our own.”

The consultants Warner mentioned were able to provide guidance on the avoidance of sexual abuse allegations, as well as on the navigation of claims born through litigation.

Looking Forward

As risk profiles evolve and new exposures come to the fore, Warner said, Albertina Kerr will continue to address the risks that meet them in the future.

However, Albertina Kerr recently began to expand its services outside of the state of Oregon, leading it to manage business risk on a larger landscape. Cyber exposure remains high on every business’s radar, and Albertina Kerr is no exception.

Ultimately, for Warner and the organization, it all comes back to safety.

“We’re extremely committed to helping people who are vulnerable and marginalized, but how can we maintain our risk focus as we approach change to make sure that we can lean in hard on our mission, and do it in a way that keeps ourselves and one another safe?” he said. &

Emma Brenner is a staff writer with Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected].

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