What the Pool’s Top Causes of Loss Mean for You and Your District

Top Causes of Loss

When it was formed, the Pool was given a simple but important mission: to be a safe harbor from the traditional insurance industry and to help its members prevent damaging losses. For almost thirty years, the Pool has been doing just that. Tracking the data behind losses is an enormous part of that task.

Given the diversity of the Pool’s members and its coverage, there is tremendous range in size and type of claim. This makes managing those claims and tracking them a very large undertaking. While some types of claims are unavoidable, loss prevention can help mitigate the vast majority of them.

The beauty of loss prevention is that these steps can be extremely simple—such as employee training or proper maintenance. Here’s a recap of some of the biggest loss leaders the Pool has seen over the last several years, broken out by line of coverage.

Automobile

The most common automobile claims are those that involve district drivers hitting other drivers (especially by rear-ending them) or by striking buildings. During the past ten years, members’ drivers have been involved in 577 such accidents. Fifteen of these involved bodily injury to a third party while 217 resulted in property damage to a third party.

The Pool paid out more than $2.1 million for these claims. Automobile accidents aren’t always avoidable, but careful driving and proper fleet management practices can help reduce these risks. We offer training and guidance on both of those fronts, including access to loss prevention and safety visits or the member Training Centers.

Property

Property damage can be a trickier thing to manage. You can’t exactly train your roof not to blow off in a wind storm. Of the almost 700 property claims in the last decade, 257 of these were related to weather. The remainders were a result of other causes such as fires and vandalism. Weather is difficult to predict and sometimes impossible to prepare for, but vandalism, theft and other forms of property damage can be deterred through the use of security cameras and signage. The Safety and Loss Prevention Grant Program can help members obtain this type of equipment.

General Liability

There are two big causes of loss in General Liability—the first is sewer backups, for which the Pool has paid out more than $2.4 million for both at-fault and no-fault occurrences. Sewer backup claims can be tricky to curb, but we do have resources to help.

First, we have a partnership with SERVPRO, which allows swift cleanup of affected households at a contained cost. Second, the Sewer Facts campaign is available to educate your customers of homeowners’ insurance options to help pay for these costly incidents.

The other big cause of loss here is slip, trip, and fall accidents, for which we have paid out a quarter of a million dollars. The Safety Grant program can help cover the cost of products that could help reduce these losses, such as wet floor signs or walk-off mats.

Public Officials and Employment Practices

During the last six years alone there have been 272 claims in this area, with a total paid of more than $7 million. These claims largely stem from accusations of discrimination or wrongful termination, which are delicate issues that can quickly become costly legal battles. We have numerous training resources to help tackle these issues, such as workshops, webinars, and our online training centers.

Additionally, we provide the CSD Pool HR Helpline, which has a number of useful tools such as sample policies and forms, and no-cost access to HR attorneys. You can submit questions via phone or email, and get a response from a legal professional quickly. This allows your district to take the proper action when terminating an employee so that you don’t face these expensive and damaging charges. This tool is invaluable to members whether they have a full human resources department or none at all.

Workers’ Compensation

Slip, trips, and falls are an enormous issue in Workers’ Compensation, just like they are in General Liability. There have been more than 1,500 incidents with a total incurred cost of more than $10 million. Similarly, there have been 1,800 incidents of lifting or body motion injuries with more than $12.2 million paid.

Instead of thinking that workers’ compensation claims are simply going to happen, we need to remember that all incidents are preventable. The question is: what can we do to make sure they do not happen at all? Slip and fall claims occur way too often and are avoidable but they are probably overlooked for that very reason. When you become aware of a dangerous condition, take immediate action to have the hazard fixed. Inform your supervisor, or safety committee, or other appropriate party.

As far as our lifting and body motion claims, stretching, training on body mechanics, and using proper equipment or protective gear is something that should be reinforced and applied daily.

Everyone at every district—board, management, and staff alike—must avoid complacency especially with tasks they complete every day. Processes that are “overlearned” can easily become the source of a strain or other injury.

Aside from those issues, one of the biggest sources of loss for Workers’ Compensation is cancer. A few years ago, a law was passed that moved cancer claims for firefighters into workers’ compensation. This has proved enormously costly, since cancer is not something that can be easily mitigated and is very expensive to treat. While there is no silver bullet for preventing cancer, it is best to avoid carcinogens and take the full measure of precautions when fighting fires.

Recap

Going forward, the Pool remains committed to not just paying claims—but also to avoiding them. In addition to all the programs we mentioned, our greatest tool in accomplishing this mission is you. The best weapon in preventing every loss is the diligence of our members, their employees, managers, and board members. There is a saying in the occupational safety industry, “Do it safely, or not at all.”

This doesn’t just apply to someone climbing a ladder or fighting a fire, but to anyone backing up a truck, handling an employee termination, or even walking into the office. Staying diligent is the best way to reduce your losses, and to ensure that every employee goes home safely every night.

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