In this edition of Issues in Risk Retention, host Joe Deems, Executive Director of the National Risk Retention Association (NRRA), welcomes Janice Abraham, President & CEO of United Educators, to discuss issues in assessing and insuring risks at educational institutions.

Ms. Abraham recalls a time when the traditional property/casualty insurance market had “abandoned colleges, schools and universities.” At a time when educational leaders believed their risks were “better than others in the market, they started United Educators. After 29 years in business, , she recognized that the risks are “different, but not necessarily better.”

Over time, Ms. Abraham sees the world as more complex, with social media, medical research, student travel, compliance and regulatory changes complicating the risk profile. Title 9, for instance, once focused on gender equality in sports within universities. Since 2011, Title 9 is all about sexual assault.

With regard to risk management protocols, Ms. Abraham says technology has had a major impact, with online learning for the educators as well as the learners. UE has moved beyond the risk manager making the insurance purchasing decision to focus on culture and behavior change.  She highlights the importance of communicating in the ways that students communicate these days, particularly through online social media.

Ms. Abraham admits that hazing is still a concern on campuses. Schools attempt to create environments where students can learn, grow and experiment, whether in a lab or social setting. And given new research and trends in areas like mobile technologies and devices, risks are changing because society is changing. Meanwhile, educators are attempting to make sure learning happens in a way that is safe.

Commenting on the growth of United Educators, Mr. Abraham credits the organization’s passion and focus on member needs, delivering helpful prevention and risk management programs. She still sees growth coming from areas like public universities and K-12 schools, independent and charter schools.

Looking ahead, Ms. Abraham sees challenges in keeping up with risk behaviors in schools.  She also sees the insurance industry trying to avoid being commoditized by new capital sources and attracting the best and brightest millennials to replace retiring baby boomers.

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