Assurance in Education
Ohio community colleges praise Elizabeth Conlin’s administration of their insurance and risk management consortium.
Michael Mayher, immediate past chairman of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges and senior vice president for administrative services and treasurer at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, said several new OACC members in 2014 were able to eliminate property/casualty insurance exclusions, enhance their E&O coverage and begin receiving monthly risk management education. Two slashed their P&C rates by 25 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
Two others nearly lost all insurance protection mid-year because of a disbandment of their existing program, but avoided a coverage gap after Conlin, who is a client executive for education, guided them through the OACC’s qualification and due-diligence process.
All consortium members also were insured for cyber liability, which had been cost-prohibitive or unavailable, said Joseph R. Jackson, vice president for business affairs at Clark State Community College in Springfield.
Conlin was also instrumental in persuading Ohio lawmakers to modify a state law requiring schools to purchase treasurer’s bonds; the revised law gives schools the option of purchasing either a bond or D&O liability insurance, eliminating costly duplicate coverage.
“Ms. Conlin provides countless opportunities for us to expand our knowledge and is always very patient while we try to understand new concepts,” said OACC Chair Aletha M. Shipley, director of business services at Columbus State Community College in Columbus.
Striking the Right Balance
Where colleges see insurance coverage problems, Courtney Davis sees opportunities to leverage her negotiating skills.
At the University of Chicago, a liability insurer’s stringent claims-reporting requirements were hurting the institution’s ability to internally handle claims efficiently. At renewal, Davis persuaded the insurer to modify the requirements so the school could, among other things, submit only quarterly bordereau reports for certain claims.
For the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Davis spearheaded the marketing of a property/casualty and workers’ compensation program.
“Throughout the entire process, Courtney offered exceptional guidance and options, and managed to balance the needs of seven private, nonprofit higher education institutions,” said Suzanne Lidtke, director of member services.
After a marketing campaign involving nearly 20 insurers, the group opted to remain with the incumbent insurer — for a 5 percent premium cut. By comparison, most renewals of similar programs resulted in single-digit increases. “Through her efforts, our program remained competitive, with members saving 15 percent overall,” Lidtke said.
Additionally, group members had questions and opinions about the distribution of their workers’ comp dividend. “Courtney turned around information and options to the group quickly and often — at least three times — since there were a variety of options for our members to choose from,” Lidtke said.
Excellence Under Pressure
Courtney Clarke Hensley, senior member, higher education practice, does more than place her clients’ insurance; she holds an important place in their risk management departments.
One client had just hired a risk manager when the organization was slammed with three large losses in quick succession. Hensley guided the new risk manager through the process to close all three claims quickly. One property loss involved a third party crashing a vehicle through the front doors of one of the client’s buildings and refusing to settle for any amount close to the damage. The client’s property insurer had no contractual obligation to get involved, but Hensley persuaded it to step in and cover the loss in return for subrogation rights.
“We could not have opened the building as quickly if we had to absorb the loss without appropriate subrogation,” the client said. “Ms. Hensley went the extra mile to take care of our account.”
Another client moved its risk management function over to finance after the sudden exit of its insurance director. With no insurance experts in finance, the client leaned heavily on Hensley to not only place coverage, but also to review and offer guidance on the insurance language in all of the clients’ contracts.
“We didn’t have to replace the director of insurance, and we have a higher level of expertise by using Courtney,” the client said. “It’s hard to quantify the amount of money we’ve saved by taking Courtney’s advice, but she’s been instrumental in our department’s success.”
Easing Student Burdens
As universities and colleges wrestle with the cost of student health insurance plans, many are turning to Teresa Koster for guidance — and substantial savings.
The University of Minnesota was contemplating a self-funded health plan, but the ACA offered no guidance on which fees and taxes would apply. Koster arranged for the university to seek legal advice. As she suspected, legal counsel opined that a reinsurance fee would not apply to self-funded plans.
“Having a legal opinion from a recognized firm is invaluable to substantiate our position,” said Susann Jackson, director of student health benefits. “That fee would amount to $660,000 for the first year and $440,000 the second year,” and students would have shouldered all of it, she said. “The first year’s payment due date for the reinsurance taxes was imminent, so we were excited at how quickly Teresa was able to accomplish this project.”
Koster also faced a time crunch as she assisted Cornell University in moving to a self-funded student health plan. Stop-loss insurers generally had not seen requests for coverage for student health plans, said Craig R. McAllister, Cornell’s director of risk management and insurance. As Koster was navigating that issue, Cornell had a tight timeframe from when the data was available to when it needed to file its plan with the New York State Department of Financial Services. “Teresa and her colleagues were able to keep the carriers moving in a timely fashion to meet our deadlines,” he said. The move will save Cornell and its students more than $2.5 million annually.
The Right Man for the Challenge
Officials with the Midwestern Higher Education Compact look at David Letzelter as their “Mission: Possible” agent.
Minneapolis-based MHEC is a nonprofit organization that helps several Midwestern states advance higher education through resource sharing. Its master property insurance program covers 73 colleges and universities, and more than 160 campuses with $102.5 billion of insured value.
“Due to the size of the program and limits required, there was concern that the program’s lead insurer may be unable to offer its current capacity due to their increased focus on engineering and underwriting requirements, which could potentially impact the program,” said Larry A. Isaak, MHEC president. “Being proactive, David brought the program’s leadership committee together early to develop a renewal strategy.”
The committee’s two major goals were to diversify the portfolio of insurers and carve out the fine arts exposure and cover it in a separate program. Letzelter led a team that was able meet both goals.
Isaak and Chris Glidewell, MHEC’s leadership committee chairman and director of university risk management at Southern Illinois University, noted that MHEC’s July renewal resulted in a 2.8 percent rate decrease in the base program and a more diversified portfolio.
Letzelter also produced a separate fine arts program that provides MHEC members with improved protection that also cut premiums about $70,000, eliminated deductibles for non-owned fine arts and reduced deductibles for owned fine arts.
Cool in the Midst of Crisis
Timing is everything. Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., had just engaged Bill Powell as its broker in July 2014 as the school’s study-abroad program was about to commence. Faculty and students were to depart for Ghana in West Africa as the Ebola virus emerged as a global health crisis.
With Calvin concerned about its health care coverage for faculty and students as well as security under its foreign insurance program, Powell arranged calls with the school’s underwriters and security providers. He walked the school through various scenarios they should prepare for.
Powell also obtained quotes for trip cancellation and interruption insurance with no exclusion for pandemics.
“We are a new client of Bill’s, and his track record over the last several months has really built the trust needed to continue our relationship in positive ways,” said Don DeGraaf, professor and director of off-campus programs at Calvin.
Powell also assisted Elmhurst College in Illinois with a spike in workers’ comp claims.
“He immediately contacted us and set up a few meetings with our WC loss control consultant,” said Jim Cunningham, former vice president for finance and administration. “Bill and our consultant provided a number of immediate changes in communication with employees, processes we were using that were root causes and provided us with education tools to correct those issues.”