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FEATURES

INSURING SCHOOLS

A test for our times From gun violence to drone use, providing coverage for schools in the 21st century is anything but simple AS NEWSPAPER headlines remind us on a daily basis, schools are microcosms of our society and have the potential to magnify our ugliest problems, from sexual assault to racism to gun violence. “We think of schools as sacrosanct – what can go wrong in a school? But our experience has taught us that plenty can go wrong,” says Wendell Smith, assistant vice president of marketing and special programs at Education Insurance Services, a wholesale brokerage and sister company to United Educators that provides core coverage solutions for independent K-12 schools and small colleges. When things do go wrong, it can create significant liability exposure, along with the need for an insurance policy that will protect the school’s assets while also serving as a crucial risk management tool to shield the school’s administration, board and property. Finding the right insurance coverage is just as essential to the success of a school as its faculty, facilities and curriculum. And with close to 100,000 public schools, 31,000 private schools and 5,300 colleges and universities in the US, the market for school insurance is complex, varied and robust.

Insurance for the education sector Insurance products for educational institu-

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tions are designed to provide public, private and charter schools, as well as colleges and universities, with coverages that are unique to their own particular vulnerabilities and exposures – such as Title IX compliance, sexual abuse and molestation, tenure disputes, and athletic injuries. These specialty coverages are packaged with other products that are important to all commercial enterprises – such as general liability, property, auto and workers’ comp – to help simplify the insurance purchase. School insurance specialists frequently straddle the gap between public and private, as well as between K-12 and post-secondary education. “At EIS, we deal a lot with independent K-12 schools, private schools with 800–900 students and fewer, and also mid-sized colleges and universities, both private and public, four-year and community colleges, and also find ourselves working with public school districts,” Smith says. Insurance products for public and independent schools vary in their emphasis on the types of coverage and limits that are required. A public school district with one high school and several elementary and middle schools, for example, might have many

different types of property exposure, and perhaps a fleet of buses all under the same jurisdiction. Independent K-12 schools, on the other hand, are generally on a much smaller scale and tend to be one entity. “Also unique to public schools is the fact that they are publicly funded and may deal with a state-controlled program to meet their insurance needs,” Smith says, “whereas independent K-12 schools will shop for their

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16/10/2015 5:26:10 AM

Insurance Business America issue 3.10  

The magazine for America’s insurance broking and advice community.

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