Oklahoma Schools Insurance Rates Increase After Storms

May 24, 2011

More than 400 Oklahoma schools have received notices of expected insurance rate increases averaging 19.5 percent.

The notice from the Oklahoma Schools Insurance Group, which provides various types of coverage to 440 of Oklahoma’s 526 school districts, comes after schools were told that state funding for public education will be cut by 4.1 percent in the next fiscal year.

Bill Denton, superintendent of Yukon Public Schools, whose district has not yet received its premium quote, said an increase of about 19.5 percent would be tough to take.

“That would be really devastating based on the other budget cuts that we’re receiving,” he told The Oklahoman.

Denton said the district’s property, liability and auto premium last year was about $270,000, so a 20 percent increase would amount to about $54,000.

David Martin, executive director for the Oklahoma Schools Insurance Group, said that the biggest increase was in property insurance due largely to weather-related losses amounting to nearly $81 million over the past four years.

“The past four years, Oklahoma has experienced some unusual and terrible weather events – unprecedented ice and snow storms, severe wind and hail and devastating tornadoes,” the insurance group stated in its email to school districts.

“In addition, we have suffered several horrendous fire losses over the last four years that have only added to the pain.”

The insurance group told the schools that the current fiscal year went well for the first 10 months and the organization hoped to be able to convince its insurance partner, Travelers, to keep rates low.

“Through early April 2011, we appeared to finally be emerging from our loss slump and early indications from Travelers were very positive,” group officials wrote.

“However, the day before our quote was to be received from Travelers, Tushka Independent School District was leveled by a tornado. This was followed by two tough days of wind and hail losses. We immediately went from having $3.3 million in losses in the current year to $16.3 million in losses – on $9.6 million of premium paid to Travelers for 2010,” the group said.

Another insurance program called the Oklahoma Schools Risk Management Trust, sponsored by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, provides insurance for a smaller number of Oklahoma schools.

Jim Austin, president of the company that oversees that program, declined to comment on the number of schools that participate in that program or what they should expect in the way of premiums in the coming year.

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