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Professional liability and property insurance premiums for senior living operators are increasing thanks to COVID-19, according to the results of a new National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care survey.

“Significant” increases in property insurance premiums were reported by 32% of assisted living, 25% of memory care and 24% of independent living operators responding to the NIC Executive Survey Insights Wave 43. Only 6% of independent living operators, and 3% of assisted living and memory care operators, said they experienced declines in property insurance premiums.

COVID-19 litigation, increased fire insurance, inflation on replacement costs and insurance companies leaving local markets resulted in a lack of competition from carriers in certain markets, according to overall survey respondents, a group that also included skilled nursing providers.

“Significant” cost increases for professional liability insurance premiums compared with pre-pandemic prices were reported by assisted living (26%), memory care (19%) and independent living (14%) operators. Only 3% of independent living respondents indicated seeing a slight decrease in professional liability insurance premiums.

A nationwide increase in claims frequency and severity, perceived risk associated with COVID-19 deaths, inflation, cost of care and fewer carriers resulting in less competition were cited by participants as reasons for professional liability premium increases.

COVID-19 has continued effect

As in past surveys, the rise of COVID-19 variants BA.4 and BA.5 correlated with a drop in the number of overall operators reporting an acceleration in the pace of move-ins. 

A slowdown in lead conversions / sales (76%), an organizationally imposed ban (18%) and resident or family concerns (6%) related to the pandemic were cited as reasons for the slowed pace of move-ins.

Staffing shortages were not among the reasons operators cited as driving the drop in move-ins, compared with 16% who cited staffing in last month’s Wave 42 survey.

This was the second consecutive wave showing an increase in the number of organizations reporting a deceleration in move-ins, at 48%, up from 7% in Wave 41 and 17% in Wave 42.

In fact, 50% of assisted living respondents reported that move-ins remained steady, whereas 31% of independent living operators reported a decline in move-ins. Memory care properties rebounded from Wave 42’s significant decrease. 

Operators also reported increased resident needs at move-in compared with pre-pandemic acuity. Of senior living sectors, 66% of assisted living operators reported the highest increase in resident needs, followed by 56% in memory care and 36% in independent living.

The majority of senior living survey respondents reported no change in the pace of move-outs in the past 30 days, which has remained consistent across the last four surveys. In Wave 43, 77% of independent living operators, 74% of assisted living operators and 63% of memory care operators reported no change in the pace of move-outs.