Q&A with John Fetcho, Director, AANA Insurance Services
Congress Daily: AANA Insurance Services is 30 years old this year – Congratulations to the whole team! How was the agency formed in 1989?
John Fetcho: There was a medical malpractice insurance crisis in the mid- and late-1980s. CRNAs were faced with very expensive malpractice premiums and the threat that malpractice insurance might not be available at any price. AANA President Peggy McFadden (1986-87) recognized that if the AANA did not take action, a crisis would not only have an impact on individual members, but the nurse anesthesia profession as well. A feasibility study was undertaken during President McFadden’s term and the agency was opened during President Sandra Maree Ouellette’s term (1988-89). The rest, as they say, is history.
Congress Daily: In addition to the AANA Insurance Services' 30th anniversary, you have been with AANA Insurance Services for 25 years now. To what do you attribute the longevity of AANA Insurance Services and your tenure here?
Fetcho: The support of the members and the support of the AANA. This has allowed us to always look out for our members’ best interest even when it might not be in the best interests of AANA Insurance Services. Let me give you an example. In the early 2010s, we were able to get our insurance companies to agree to convert our policyholders with claims-made policies to occurrence policies without charging for the “tail” coverage. This conversion cost AANA Insurance Services millions of dollars in lost sales, but more importantly, it saved our members millions of dollars and that’s what was most important. It’s been wonderful to be able to work at an insurance agency where I could really do what’s best for our members and not just be concerned about sales.
Congress Daily: What appealed to you about the Director of Insurance Services position (i.e., why did you take the job)?
Fetcho: It was the agency’s potential. It was clear that the AANA was onto something, but it was also obvious to me that there was a lot more that could be done for the members. We’ve developed insurance products that are far superior to what the agency had when it first opened. Initially, only claims-made coverage was available. Now the vast majority of our policyholders have an occurrence coverage which provides far superior coverage. And I believe the moonlighting policies we developed in the late 1990s helped promote the growth of the nurse anesthesia profession.
Congress Daily: Many of your employees have been with AANA Insurance Services for long tenures as well. Have any of them been with the agency since the beginning?
Fetcho: While the average employee has been with AANA Insurance Services for nearly 15 years, only one employee has been with the agency since the very beginning, and that is Diane Keegan. I know the agency wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for Diane. She’s the one who built the foundation of this agency. I’m not sure what we do without her. As a matter of fact, I’ve told her she can never retire.
Congress Daily: What has surprised you the most during your 25-year tenure at AANA Insurance Services?
Fetcho: By how much the premiums for CRNAs have gone down during that time. But maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised because the premiums are a direct reflection of how safe nurse anesthesia has gotten over that same time period. Since 1989, the average nationwide premium for a CRNA has gone down 33% in terms of real dollars, and when adjusted for inflation, it has gone down 68%. I can’t imagine many other healthcare professionals have seen premium decreases like that. It’s a true testament to our members’ care and patient safety.
Congress Daily: The past couple of years there has been a Mock Malpractice Deposition session at the AANA Annual Congress – this year you and Steven Mund, DNP, CRNA, CENP, FACHE, are presenting the mock malpractice deposition on Tuesday, August 13 from 12:45 – 1:45 p.m. How did this come about and why did you feel it was important to be involved?
Fetcho: At the last minute, we were given some time at one of the product theaters in the exhibit hall during one of the recent Annual Congresses. Rather than just give a lecture of some sort, it made sense to do something a bit more interactive. It was actually MedPro’s (the insurance company AANA Insurance Services works with) idea to do the mock deposition, and MedPro will be sponsoring this year‘s mock deposition as well. Not only do we think the members will find the mock deposition informative and entertaining, we’ve added a CE component to it this year for the first time.
Congress Daily: One of the best benefits you have insisted on at AANA Insurance Services is that you and your staff will answer any question about insurance and policies whether a CRNA or SRNA is an AANA policyholder or not. What made you decide to offer that service?
Fetcho: AANA Insurance Services is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the AANA and we provide our services as a benefit of membership. Simply put, we want to be a resource for all of our members, even those who don’t buy a policy from us. The vast majority of our members work in practice settings where their malpractice insurance is provided for them. That sort of coverage isn’t always in our members’ best interest. We want our members to know they can always call us with their malpractice questions whether they buy a policy from us or not.
Congress Daily: In addition to being a stellar director here, you are an excellent photographer. You have photographed many AANA and Annual Congress events (for which the AANA Congress Daily staff is most grateful). How did your interest in photography come about?
Fetcho: It would have been from my dad. He took pictures of all of my high school activities. I ended up doing the same with my daughter. Unlike my dad, I continued with my photography after my daughter ‘s activities were over. I shoot primarily sports photography and have been fortunate enough to have my photos appear in a number of books and publications, including Sports Illustrated.
Thank you to you and your team for all your good work on behalf of AANA members. Do you have anything else you’d like to let our members know about AANA Insurance Services?
Fetcho: No matter what, we always put the member first. We specialize in malpractice insurance for CRNAs; it’s all we do. We offer more coverage options for CRNAs than any other insurance agent. We only work with financially-sound insurance companies. Unlike other insurance agents, none of the insurance companies we have ever represented have ever had financial issues. The policies we sell provide the broadest coverage and are the only polices that give our members complete say in how their claims are going to be settled. And even if you don’t have a policy with us, we’re here as a resource for any malpractice insurance question or issue you might have.