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Public risk managers help adapt coverage to evolving weapons threats

Public risk managers help adapt coverage to evolving weapons threats

INDIANAPOLIS — Insurance coverage for malicious attacks continues to evolve due to the morphing nature of modes of attack and chosen weapons, challenging insurers and policyholders to keep up with a changing threat and coverage landscape, according to a panel speaking Tuesday at the Public Risk Management Association’s annual conference in Indianapolis.

Even the name of the coverage has changed more than once, one panelist said.

“It’s ever-evolving,” said Paul Marshall, program manager, active shooter division, for McGowan Program Administrators in Dayton, Ohio. “We started with active shooter, then workplace violence. Now it’s deadly weapon attack. I don’t know if there will be one phrase that covers all of it.”

Policyholders are also seeing the ground moving beneath their feet.

“Last year we bought this coverage July 1, and at the time vehicle was not considered a dangerous instrument,” said Dianne L. Howard, risk and benefits manager for Palm Beach County School District in Florida.

Prior to the policy’s taking effect, however, a vehicle attack incident brought the issue to Ms. Howard’s attention. “We said, ‘We need the vehicle covered,’” Ms. Howard said. “It took a month or so to get the policy written,” but was eventually endorsed back to inception, she said.

Another open question related to the tearing down of a building due to emotional issues, as is being done with the ninth-grade school building involved in the Parkland, Florida, shootings earlier this year, in Broward County not far from Palm Beach — something not covered by insurance.

“We asked if we could have a separate tower of coverage for the property if we had to tear it down because of an active shooter event,” Ms. Howard said, adding she was able to secure a $20 million limit for such an event with a $10 million retention, essentially a split of rebuilding costs, for some $20,000 in premium.

“The key is to build in an emotional duress trigger” into the coverage, Mr. Marshall said.

Ms. Howard was instrumental in manuscripting the policy wording, he said.

“Diane originated and crafted policy language to handle the tear-down demolition,” Mr. Marshall said. “It’s pretty cool that an insured is able to write their own policy form that other organizations will benefit from.”

Another issue that has arisen is the question of arming school personnel, such as teachers, but this can run afoul of certain exclusion language, according to James P. Kelly, executive vice president of LifeSafety Solutions in Palm City, Florida, and retired police chief of the Palm Beach School District in Florida.

“For my private clients, their carriers have specifically excluded that, so the only people allowed with firearms on campus, in church, are law enforcement.”

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