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County governments may soon have an array of new risk financing options available to them.

The National Assn. of Counties last week announced a partnership with Sedgwick Inc. to develop new risk services for counties.

Separately, a group of state county associations and risk pools are investigating forming a captive.

The partnership formed by Washington-based NACo and Sedgwick will be a "platform for developing insurance and risk management-related products for the county marketplace," said Brad Johnson, managing director of Sedgwick's public entity division in Columbia, S.C.

These could include traditional and alternative risk financing mechanisms and address exposures in areas including environmental, public official liability and personal coverages for county employees, he said. The partnership could offer pilot products to some county associations as soon as April.

Stephen Swendiman, managing director of NACo's Financial Services Center in Washington, said there is no intention of competing with existing state county association risk financing programs.

The overriding theme of the venture, he said, is "we are hoping to create a new way of delivering services to municipalities through our partnership that would streamline the (financial) security process of county governments" through a market basket "tailored to the desires of our clientele."

Meanwhile, an informal group of state county associations and risk pools are investigating forming a captive to provide excess insurance.

The six group members have hired Johnson & Higgins of Georgia "to take a look at the marketplace for us to see if we can find what type of response we get" to the concept of a multiline captive that could provide coverage for liability, property and possibly workers comp risks, said Jim Jean, business manager for the Texas. Assn. of Counties' self-insurance pools in Austin. One of the factors on which J&H will be seeking input is the limits that would be offered.

A feasibility study conducted for the group by ARM Tech Inc. in Lake Forest, Calif., has already concluded a captive is feasible, he said (BI, June 6, 1996). "We are now looking to see if we want to go on from there."

Members of the group are from Texas, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina, Washington and Missouri, though a total of about 20 state county associations have expressed varying degrees of interest, said Mr. Jean. These six will make the decision as to "whether to go forward or not and we would think at that time some of the others.*.*.might be interested," he said.

Potential domiciles include Vermont and Colorado, but no firm decision has been made, he said.

The group expects to meet in Santa Fe, N.M., in March "to take any response that we might have and evaluate it" and set a schedule.

The primary reason the group has decided to explore this concept now "has to do with the evolution of the pools," said Mr. Jean. Several county pool managers think volume has increased to the point where the concept might be feasible.

He added, though, that,"Obviously we have considered the market conditions and some of us feel possibly forming in a soft market will be more reasonable and easy."

Mr. Jean noted the group may receive some assistance from the new NACo partnership with Sedgwick.