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Third parties account for over 25% of higher-education insurer United Educators' claims


CHEVY CHASE, Md.—Third-party liability claims accounted for more than one-quarter of the total claims filed by higher education members of United Educators Insurance, A Reciprocal Risk Retention Group between 2005 and 2009, according to a report issued by the group Tuesday.

According to the report by Chevy Chase, Md.-based UE, of the 8,700 claims filed, 2,280—or 26%—were filed by third parties, including alumni, family members and the general public who visit a campus. This group also included contractors, vendors and people who perform on-campus services, or otherwise have academic or business relationships with the higher education institution, but excluded students and university employees.

A total of 90% of the third-party claims, or 2,055, alleged bodily injuries or property damage under UE's general liability policies, while the remaining 225, or 10%, alleged wrongful acts under UE's educators legal liability policy, according to the report.

General liability claims generated $52 million in indemnity and defense costs with 15 claims costing more than $1 million apiece, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total, according to the report.

Most third-party general liability claimants are visitors, who accounted for more than half of the reported claims and nearly 40% of the total dollars spent. Other claimants were unaffiliated people, contractors and minors.

Nearly half of the reported incidents involved third parties who slipped, tripped or fell, including people who slipped on ice, tripped over objects and fell from heights, with a roughly equal number occurring outdoors and indoors. Visitors filed three-quarters of these claims.

Fifteen deaths and 109 traumatic brain injuries were reported, with three injuries resulting in paralysis. Broken bones were the most commonly reported injury, accounting for more than one in five claims.

Vehicles were the second most frequent category of general liability claims, followed by accidents, assaults, athletics and property, which includes incidents that resulted solely in property damage, according to the report.

Analyzing the cost data, while slips and falls were the most frequent claim, vehicles were the costliest, accounting for more than one-third of total costs, or $19.2 million. The eight claims that exceeded $1 million all occurred off campus, and six of the claimants sustained multiple injuries, with one incident resulting in a fatality.

Fraud and misrepresentation claims accounted for the biggest percentage of wrongful act claims, as well as the biggest percentage of total dollars paid by UE and its members. They accounted for 34% of total claims, and 49% of the total dollars paid, or $5 million.

Copies of the report, “An Inside Look at UE's Third-Party Liability Claims in Higher Education,” can be found at