Ohio Schools Insure Against Terrorism, Sexual Misconduct

July 12, 2006

School insurance policies in Ohio that used to cover the basics, workers’ compensation for staff, liability insurance for jungle gym accidents, now also cover catastrophes such as terrorist attacks or school shootings, insurers and school officials say.

Districts noticed events in the news such as school shootings and natural disasters and expanded their policies, said Jeff Junkas of the American Insurance Association. Nationally, most schools still have fairly basic coverage because budgets are tight, but districts are increasingly conscious of a wider set of risks, he said.

The Ohio School Plan, administered by the Toledo-based Hylant Insurance Group, insures about 380 members statewide, many of them school districts. Carey Schuett, Hylant’s vice president, said the most common coverage areas include employment practices for issues such as wrongful termination and sexual misconduct.

The Ohio School Plan offers insurance for terrorism and violent acts on school property. That money can go toward ambulances, psychologists and life insurance for victims of attacks, Schuett said. The plan does not cover violence that happens outside the school building.

In Franklin County, Columbus city schools go without terrorism coverage, but a handful of suburban districts have it. Dublin spent about $12,000 on its terrorism insurance this year, treasurer Chris Mohr said.

Terrorism insurance would cost Columbus Public Schools $33,000 a year, district spokesman Michael Straughter said.

“While there is a need because of the world we live (in), $33,000 can go a long way in terms of purchasing books or hiring another reading specialist,” he said.

Akron city schools added terrorism insurance this year because it was included in their $618,000 package, business manager David James said.

“Schools are hard-pressed in the state of Ohio for funding, and I don’t think schools are much of a target,” Schuett said, but terrorism insurance can be a relatively inexpensive add-on.

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