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From the Trust Perspective: Risk management matters 

by Bob Haynes, League Associate Director, Risk Management Services

Our quarterly newsletter is titled "Trust Matters" because each of our pools are organized as a trust in which members share risk and reap the benefit of being self-funded, similar to what larger municipalities routinely do independently. For these trusts to be successful, i.e. offer stable and competitive rates year after year, the risk management must matter.

We are continuously exploring ideas that will help trust members manage risk. Examples include developing cyber risk management tools, providing online land use training classes, piloting of an innovative program to reduce musculoskeletal injuries by working with our police and public safety employees.

Last year we embarked upon a mission to learn more about cyber risk as it relates to municipal government. The result of this effort was the development of a comprehensive cyber risk management program, including specialized cyber risk management insurance coverage provided by a commercial carrier that specializes in this area. Coverage is available to members of our property/liability insurance trust and is highly recommended. We hear of data breaches that affect major retailers such as Home Depot and Target. Most recently we heard about the breach of health information of 80 million Anthem customers. While these are the events that make the headlines, we know that local government is not immune to data breaches, whether at the hands of a hacker, employee mistakes or malware. Our strong recommendation is to take advantage of the risk management tools found on our website behind the E-Risk Hub button and transfer the risk through the purchase of cyber risk insurance.

Two years ago we asked the UNCSchool of Government to develop training modules to assist our members in making land use decisions. These claims can be avoided if proper procedures are followed but when a suit is filed, they are expensive to defend. These programs are available for purchase from the School of Government, but free to members of the property/liability insurance trust. Also, the School of Government will be conducting half-day workshops regionally in May and June. To learn more visit: www.sog.unc.edu/boardtraining. The fee to attend the workshop is only $45.

We started Fit Responder is a program designed to strengthen core muscles and thus avoid musculoskeletal injuries. These types of injuries (back, neck and joints) can take years to fix, which is frustrating and painful for the employee who wants to return to work and ultimately very expensive. The best risk management tool available is to avoid the injury in the first place! This is exactly what the Fit Responder program attempts to do. We piloted this program with a member that averaged 12 claims per 100 employees each year. After implementation of the Fit Responder program its injury rate dropped in half to 6 claims per 100 employees. The best part however is that none of these injuries involved musculoskeletal claims -- the exact area the program is designed to improve! See page (add page for Asheboro story) to learn more.

Last year we paid out more than $9 million in police-related claims. Given the risks associated with policing, we are evaluating a number of initiatives: TASER training; a device that lessens distractions while driving and proper policy, and procedure for those who choose to equip officers with body cameras. Each of these initiatives is vetted by a committee of police chiefs representing the membership. Also, we’ll be hosting the third police driving school this spring. These have been popular and successful. One measure of success is whether the number of vehicle accidents has decreased, and we are pleased to report that claims for those departments that have participated in the school have been reduced by 28 percent.

We appreciate the partnership we have with you, our members, as you recognize that risk management matters and work with us to reduce claims, protect your employees and citizens, and ultimately save money.