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 Trust Matters, February 2014 

Will my premium change in 2014-2015?

Free, online land use training

Edenton eliminates preventable accidents

Did you know?

Risk Management Services Spring Meetings coming in April!

Update on Affordable Care Act

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Will my premium change in 2014-2015?

Workers Compensation rates were decreased significantly last year on selected codes.  The latest analysis supports those actions. Therefore, we are able to keep those rates in place.  The rates will not change for the 2014-2015 renewal. However, the minimum premiums by the individual class codes and the threshold to receive incentive credits were increased slightly. The available incentive credits will remain at $3,125,000. A member must renew in order to receive the incentive credit. The amount of incentive credit is based on the member’s years of participation in the program and its five-year loss ratio. Also, for those members who have a deductible, the credits will be reduced, which will increase the premium slightly. 

The Property and Liability pool has performed better than predicted by our actuaries, and we are pleased to pass on the good news to our members. The overall premium actions from rate changes will decrease the premium to the Property and Liability Trust by approximately $700,000.  For selected exposures, rates were decreased in Auto Liability, Auto Physical Damage and General Liability. The Employment Practices Liability and Police Professional Liability lines of coverage have not performed as well. Therefore, the rates for these lines were increased slightly. In addition to individual rate changes, the Trust will also increase the amount available for incentive credit. For those members that qualify for an incentive credit, the amount will be increased from $1,800,000 to $2,500,000. 

Of course, any exposure changes (increase in payroll, number of autos, number of employees, etc.) will affect your premium. Your loss experience will also affect your premium for 2014-1015. By reducing your losses, you can lower your premium and the premium to be collected by the Property and Liability Trust. Please contact your Loss Control representative if you need assistance in looking for ways to reduce losses.

Free, online land use training

Developing a successful land use program often requires decisions from elected officials and municipal staff. Our experience shows that a town may be faced with costly litigation and public scrutiny when the land use process falls outside of applicable regulations and guidelines. 

Your Risk Management Services Board of Trustees partnered with the UNC School of Government to develop a series of free online training modules to help our members who participate in the League’s Property and Liability Trust to better understand some of the complex issues associated with land use decisions.   

The training, which is part of Risk Management Services’ online training tool Safety Catch, is an excellent learning tool for those appointed, elected and municipal staff officials who are responsible for land use responsibilities. It will consist of 12 modules; two modules are currently available, four more will be available between March and June of this year, and four to six more will come in July.

Some of the topics covered include land development regulations; legislative, quasi-judicial, land subdivision and administrative decisions; vested rights; land ordinances and steps needed for developing a comprehensive land development plan. 

Property and liability insurance members can access the training at  

http://firstnetcampus.com/nclm/entities/nclm/logon.htm.

Another enhancement to our online training now allows users to present training topics in a classroom setting. Until this service enhancement, the only option for a  participant was to take a training class on an individual bases. After receiving several requests from our members, Risk Management Services approached FirstNet Learning to request a modification to the online training that would facilitate classroom style training. We are pleased to announced that FirstNet was able to make the necessary upgrades to provide this service. The classroom training will add value to the program and improve training, particularly for some of the more comprehensive topics where the addition of an instructor and other students will facilitate  a more complete learning environment. Email Brenda Rich or call her at 919-715-2902 if you need assistance with access to the training. 

Edenton eliminates preventable accidents

In 2012 Edenton Manager Anne-Marie Knighton and Police Chief Jay Fortenberry noticed a drastic increase in the number of preventable police vehicle accidents. Edenton, which has a population of roughly 5,000, saw the number of accidents rise from nine from an average of zero to three among the small force of 17 officers.

“Nine was alarming,” Knighton said. “We had to step back and say ‘We’re not tackling this problem properly. We have to do something before somebody gets hurt.’”

With driver reform on her mind, she attended the League’s 2012 Annual Conference in Charlotte, where Hillsborough Town Manager Eric Peterson led a session about police liability and driver safety. She said when she came back to Edenton, she knew they were on the right track for training reform.

Shortly after conference Paul Miller, risk management field consultant from the League, went to Edenton to hold two defensive driver trainings for all Edenton employees. He also recommended implementing the Smith System driver training, which is anchored by five keys related to being a more attentive driver. The town sent two employees to a week-long training in Charlotte to become certified instructors with a goal of every town employee completing the Smith training.

In addition, Edenton employees participated in Slower is Faster, a video produced by the League and Peterson to help police departments reduce their number of claims. The video is now part of several trainings done by the League and other organizations including the North Carolina Justice Academy, Association of Law Enforcement Emergency Response Trainers and the Georgia Municipal Association.

Because of Edenton’s comprehensive approach to training, it was able to reduce the number of preventable accidents to one in 2013 and none in the first half of fiscal year 2014.

“I’m really proud of Chief for the great way he’s embraced this issue,” Knighton said. “He’s really tried to change the culture in this department that safe driving is one of the most important skills an officer needs to have.”

According to an extensive study done by the League’s Field Services department last year, the second-most dangerous task for law enforcement officers is operating a motor vehicle, and majority of those accidents are preventable by reducing distractions.

“Police departments provide some level of driver training after Basic Law Enforcement Training, but most is centered around emergency response driving,” League Director of Field Services Bryan Leaird said. “While it is certainly a critical topic to cover, it does not always address the deficiencies that are causing the majority of the accidents.”

Edenton is focused on emphasizing the importance of employees knowing their responsibility when driving. The town implemented a policy that bans the use of mobile data terminals and cell phones when in motion and is taking driver history checks more seriously for violations on and off the clock.

“As Chief reminds me, a police officer’s car is his office. They have so many more distractions now,” Knighton said. “A lot of which are technology driven – there’s lights, radios, cell phones, and mobile terminals. Their job is harder now than it’s ever been.”

Fortenberry also placed a copy of the Smith System’s Five Keys in every police vehicle as a reminder to stay focused.

“We’ve realized driver training in police work has really been lacking. That’s one of the things we do every day,” Fortenberry said. “We need to focus on training and emphasizing safety. There’s so many officers killed every year in their vehicles – just driving.”

Last year Risk Management Services held an intensive, two-day driving seminar in Charlotte. The League will conduct its second police driver training class later this spring and has a goal to conduct one class a year in various parts of the state to offer training to all departments that participate in the Risk Management Services program.

“This is a perfect example of the success a member can experience when they address a loss exposure,” Leaird said. “Fewer accidents means more police cars available for patrol, few officers injured, fewer complaints from citizens, and a financial savings for the town.”

Did you know?

As the wellness administrator at the League, I would like to take this opportunity to remind our members just how awesome our wellness benefits are.  First and foremost, we cover all in-network wellness visits with your primary care provider at 100 percent.  Services include your physicals, lab work associated with your physical, mammograms, pap smears, PSA testing, immunizations and screening colonoscopies.  We also offer free onsite health risk assessments program through our very own Wellness Initiative. The Wellness Initiative is a multifaceted program designed to improve an employee’s quality of life by evaluating present health status and making realistic suggestions and recommendations for future improvement. Screenings include lipids, cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, blood pressure, body composition, flexibility, endurance and overall fitness testing. 

We continue to offer Wellness and Employee Assistance Program Grants for members who participate in our health program. Grants range anywhere from $400 to $6,000. This is free money to help you build and maintain your in house wellness programs. Our Smart Starts Maternity Education Program is a free comprehensive prenatal program designed to ensure your baby gets the healthiest possible start in life. Members who sign up in their first trimester receive a $150.00 check once they complete the program, and those who sign up in their second trimester receive $75.00. 

Sadly, as awesome as our programs are, many people still do not take advantage of them. Diabetes, cancer and heart disease are all still on the rise. In most cases, when any of these conditions are caught in the early stages, it not only saves you and the plan money, it saves lives. In 2015 we are looking at moving toward mandating all participants to either have a yearly wellness visit with their private doctor or participate in a Wellness Initiative screening.  We are aware that many insurance carriers already have this mandate in place. We would like to hear your thoughts and concerns regarding this matter. Please feel free to contact either me or the Director of Health Programs,  Julie Hall.

Lisa Ervin

Wellness Administrator

North Carolina League of Municipalities

Risk Management Services Spring Meetings coming in April!

Please mark your calendar to attend one of our seven spring meetings to get the latest on rates, program offerings and training on important topics. Dates and locations for our 2014 spring regional meetings will be as follows:

  •    April 1: Wilmington
  •    April 2: Kill Devil Hills
  •    April 3: Greenville
  •    April 10: Fayetteville
  •    April 22: Asheville
  •    April 23: Hickory
  •    April 24: Asheboro (NC Zoo)

The meetings begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude midday. Attendees will not only get the latest on the financial performance of the insurance trusts and rates for next year, but will also be provided information regarding two issues that are of significant concern -- cyber liability and employment practices.

We have completed eight cyber vulnerability assessments and will share what we have learned from these assessments, what you need to focus on to manage this risk, and tools to manage cyber exposure faced by local government.

Another area of significant risk is employment liability. Additionally, some are considering their options to change medical coverage for retirees now that the public health insurance exchanges are open. An attorney with Jackson Lewis will make these presentations. We have not provided an employment practices liability update since 2010, and our employment liability claims continue to outpace our premiums collected.

Registration details were emailed or you may visit our website to register for one of these meetings. See you in April!

Update on Affordable Care Act

Earlier this month the Treasury Department issued the final rules on the employer mandate, and there were some key changes as noted below:

  • Additional Delay For Medium-Sized Employers: Medium-sized employers – those with 50 to 99 full-time employees – are getting an additional year to comply. Consequently, for those employers the mandate will not kick in until 2016.
  • Transition Relief for Large Employers: While large employers will still have to meet the mandate in 2015, they will only need to offer coverage to 70 percent of full-time employees to avoid penalties for that year. After the first year, however, they will have to meet the original 95 percent target.
  • Volunteers Do Not Count: The proposed rule was not clear about whether volunteers counted as full-time employers who have to be offered coverage under that mandate. The final rule makes clear that volunteer workers do not count as full-time employees. This provides much-needed clarification for those that utilize significant numbers of volunteer workers (i.e. volunteer firefighters and other emergency response personnel).
  • Counting of Variable-hour and Seasonal Employers: There are additional tweaks to how employers should handle variable-hour and seasonal employees. The proposed rules for counting full and part-time employees were are fairly complicated. These rules need to be applied to determine if you meet the benchmark of 50 employees and thus subject to the employer mandate. If you offer a group health plan to your employees and expect to continue that practice, then it is not necessary for you complete the calculation to count variable hour and seasonal employees. However, you will still need to measure hours to determine if an employee is full time or not; employees working on average 30 hours per week must be offered coverage and there are rules associated with determining their status. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding these changes. We continue to offer Affordable Care Act webinars that address these and other aspects of the law.