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Protecting public entities

Glatfelter Public Practice delivers solutions for municipalities, schools, and water districts

By Elisabeth Boone, CPCU

Arranging insurance for public entities and helping them manage risk is a highly specialized discipline. It's also an attractive opportunity for local independent agents and brokers to serve their communities and build a profitable business niche.

For retail producers, a key to succeeding in the public entity space is finding the right partner. Glatfelter Public Practice (GPP), a leading provider of insurance and risk management services for public entities, places a high value on the relationships it has established with retailers around the country.

A division of Glatfelter Insurance Group, GPP serves the public entity market with programs that are written on an admitted basis with carriers rated A or better by A.M. Best. GPP has programs for municipalities, water-related entities, educational institutions, and independent school bus contractors.

In each of these classes, some loss exposures are obvious whereas others may be less so, according to Mark McCrary, ARM, AIC, president of Glatfelter Public Practice.

For municipalities, he comments, exposures are diverse, and some carry a significant potential for severity. "In addition to police, fire, and EMS personnel, municipalities employ street and road crews and also may have parks and recreation staff," McCrary explains. "Public structures are diverse in nature, from fire and police stations to city hall buildings, libraries, and recreational centers with pools, skating rinks and fitness facilities."

Like municipalities, educational institutions face a wide range of property and liability exposures, McCrary remarks. "Schools and school districts in our target market generally have high property values, ranging from $30 million to $100 million or more, but their exposures are contained in a smaller number of locations than is the case for municipalities with populations under 75,000," he says. "A municipality in that category may have 30 or more public buildings, whereas the school district may have just half that number."

Exposures are less complex for water and sewer districts, McCrary comments. "Exposures vary between water and wastewater treatment facilities, but there are two major exposures: failure to supply water, and sewer backup or line break," he explains. "Most water-related entities have a very small number of locations although they may have pumping stations throughout the district. With tons of concrete underwater, these structures usually are pretty resistant to physical damage."

Even in the best of times, public entities face a host of challenging loss exposures. Today, amid economic uncertainty and declining tax revenue, municipalities, schools, and other public entities often must make critical choices in the allocation of scarce resources. Some cash-strapped municipalities have actually filed for bankruptcy, and others have been forced to cut wages, lay off employees, and close some public facilities. Budget constraints also may cause public entities to defer maintenance and repairs on aging public structures.

Amid these challenges, the public entity sector overall is holding its own with respect to exposures, says John Solari, CPCU, ARM-P, executive vice president and chief underwriting officer. "Despite the current economy, we are not seeing dramatic exposure changes in public entity business like those that are taking place in other industry segments," he remarks.

Broad coverage

Each of the public entity programs offered by Glatfelter Public Practice provides broad coverage plus a robust suite of risk management services.

Filed in 44 states, the public entity program is designed for cities, towns, townships, boroughs, villages, and public entities with populations of up to 75,000. The policy provides coverage for property, general liability, public officials and management liability, cyber liability and privacy crisis management expense, crime, inland marine, and automobile. Following form excess liability coverage is available with limits up to $10 million and no deductible or self-insured retention. In each segment of the policy, insureds can choose from a number of coverage extensions.

GPP's program for water-related entities is filed in all states except Alaska and Hawaii and targets conservation, irrigation, sewer and water districts, and public, private, and nonprofit utilities. Property coverage is provided with blanket limits and offers a number of extensions. General liability coverage is written on an occurrence basis and has no exclusion for failure to supply water. The policy also covers public officials and management liability, cyber liability and privacy crisis management expense, crime, inland marine, and automobile. Like the public entity policy, the policy for water-related entities offers following form excess liability coverage with limits of up to $10 million and no deductible or self-insured retention.

GPP's program for educational institutions targets pre-K-12 public and private schools, charter schools in most states, vocational schools, and community and junior colleges without dormitory exposures. Filed in 44 states, the policy provides coverage for commercial property, commercial general liability, commercial automobile, crime, inland marine, workers compensation, educators legal liability, employment practices liability, environmental impairment liability, and equipment breakdown. The policy also offers student accident and umbrella coverage.

Insureds have access to a wide array of risk management services to help them reduce their exposures: fire prevention and protection surveys; premises liability and security evaluations; indoor air quality and mold risk assessments; in-service training programs for drivers, maintenance, and teaching staff.

Open door for agents

As noted earlier, Glatfelter Public Practice is strongly committed to independent agents and brokers and is eager to help them succeed in the public entity sector.

"Local agents are ideally positioned to approach officials in their communities and talk about risks and solutions," McCrary says. "We stand ready to be their partner every step of the way."

Cheryl Smola, one of two resource coordinators who act as a liaison between GPP and its agents, says, "GPP takes pride in offering great customer service to agents and brokers. Whether to seasoned public entity brokers or those just entering this market sector, our resource coordinators are available to answer questions, clarify our risk appetite, provide marketing material, forward submissions for underwriting review, report on the status of a submission, and assist with access to our Producer Center for renewal questionnaires and more. We truly value the agents we work with and want to help them succeed in writing public entities with Glatfelter Public Practice."

Two key factors in GPP's success in this demanding market, Solari observes, are its focus on underwriting integrity and the strong relationships it has established with its highly rated carrier partners.

"We take a disciplined underwriting approach to public entity business," he says. "We try to price our business appropriately to avoid large and unexpected swings in pricing for our brokers and public entity customers.

"We have long-term relationships with our carrier partners—in one case more than 25 years," Solari continues. "They trust us with their underwriting pen to deliver profitable results."

A third vital ingredient is teamwork, he adds. "From marketing and sales, to underwriting and risk control and claims, GPP uses a team approach to help local agents win and retain public entity business."

For more information:

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