Monday , December , 18 2017

Let it Snow... NOT!

From the Desk of the Director, Jeff Bush

It’s only mid-January, but for many Alaskans this has already become a winter to remember.  Cordova has made national headlines with its record snowfall.  Haines and Valdez have had comparable dumps of the fluffy stuff. Anchorage and Fairbanks are on pace for new annual records. Even Seattle is expecting 10 inches today.  If it isn’t snowing where you are, it’s likely bitter cold.  Schools are closed today in Bethel because the city’s sewer lines are frozen, and even down here in the Alaska banana-belt, Juneau’s temps have hovered  around zero for several days.

Not surprisingly, the harsh weather is causing a rash of insurance claims.  Roofs have collapsed or been damaged by snow loads, and sewer lines have frozen, causing some unpleasant claims.  When winter sets in like this, employees suffer snow-related injuries and snowplows inevitably cause minor damage to personal autos or mailboxes.

As we all know, tough winters are just part of life in Alaska.  But at APEI, where we see winter-related insurance claims, we also see that many are avoidable.  When working outdoors, please be cautious and avoid hazardous situations.  Wear your “yak traks” if you have them.  Keep your roofs clear of heavy snow. Drive carefully.

We can’t control the weather, and this is Alaska, after all.  But we can be aware of weather-related risks and do our utmost to avoid accidents.  And if you have an accident, whatever it may be, please report it to us as soon as possible, and we will guarantee you the very best help and service we can provide.

Let’s hope the worst of the winter of 2011-12 is now behind us.  Stay safe, stay warm, and from all of us at APEI, Happy New Year.
Saturday, December 1, 2012/Author: Alaska Public Entity Insurance/Number of views (1946)/Comments (0)/
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APEI Fall Board Meeting Report

From the Desk of the CEO, Jeff Bush

In late October, the APEI Board of Directors gathered for two days of meetings, including the annual membership meeting, the regular fall board meeting, and a full-day planning session to develop a short- and long-term strategic plan for the company.

At the annual membership meeting, APEI Chief Operating Officer Laurel Eriksen presented the APEI annual report, including audited financial statements, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012.  It will come as no surprise that the company is doing extremely well.  If you are interested, a copy of the annual report is available to all APEI members upon request. 

The first order of business for the board was the appointment of APEI board members.  Jenny Martens, Director of Finance & Budget for the Lower Yukon School District, was appointed to a vacant seat on the board.  We all look forward to working with Jenny in the months and years ahead.  Karen Goodwin (Northwest Arctic Borough School District), Elizabeth Masoni (City of Unalaska), and Bob Herron (at-large) were also reappointed for new 3-year terms.

The board also took up some housekeeping issues, making minor revisions to the bylaws and cooperative participation agreement, and formally adopting changes to the company’s target equity policy.  With adoption of this new policy, APEI will retain equity in an amount consistent with that retained by similar-sized private insurance companies.

As a result of the strategic planning session, APEI staff now have a long to-do list.  Most immediate is working to get the legislature to address rising medical costs in workers’ compensation claims.  Alaska now has the highest workers’ compensation rates in the country, which are being driven by very high and ever-increasing medical fees.  The issue is now drawing the attention of Alaska’s public and private employers alike, and I am optimistic that some solution will be found during this next session.
Monday, October 1, 2012/Author: Alaska Public Entity Insurance/Number of views (2060)/Comments (0)/
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Renewal Successes and Challenges

From the Desk of the Director, Jeff Bush

During the recently completed renewal season, APEI added one new member, Aleutians East Borough, and welcomed back the Nondalton Water/Sewer project, which was shut down in 2011-12 and hence uninsured. No existing members left APEI, so we currently sport an all-time high membership count of 66 public entities. Although members generally saw some premium rate increases this year, these were largely offset by over $1.9 million in dividends paid out to renewing members.

Obviously we at APEI are once again pleased with the results of the renewal cycle.  Nonetheless, we faced some new challenges this year that, in the future, will likely negatively impact our members.  In general, the national and international reinsurance markets are “hardening,” meaning prices are rising.  We hear talk that the cause is large insurance losses due to natural disasters around the world, but it could just be the natural pendulum swing of the market.  World insurance markets have been “soft,” with prices either flat or declining, for several years.  Whatever the cause, increased prices in the insurance industry in general mean increases to everyone, including Alaska’s public entities.

The other concern is the continuing refusal of the state government and legislature to deal with increasing medical costs in workers’ compensation claims.  While most states have in place effective statutory fee structures that control medical service costs in workers’ compensation claims, our state government has, in recent years, irresponsibly retreated and allowed these medical costs to climb virtually uncontrolled.  The result is, by our estimation, a more than 30% increase in medical claim costs in the last year alone, which translates into overall claim costs going up almost 25%.  Some of these cost increases are already showing up in rates, but unless something is done, workers’ compensation rate increases for all Alaska employers are likely to spiral upward in future years.

I encourage you to pass along your concerns to your local legislators.
Sunday, July 1, 2012/Author: Alaska Public Entity Insurance/Number of views (1769)/Comments (0)/
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Dividends and More

From the Desk of the Director, Jeff Bush

There are many signs of Spring: breakup; budding crocuses; more daylight; baseball.  However, there is another Springtime ritual that is becoming commonplace: the distribution of dividends to APEI members.  At its Spring meeting this past March, the APEI board, for the third year in a row, authorized the company to pay out dividends to members.  This year, the total amount to be handed out will be the highest ever. 

This year’s distribution, which will show up on members’ renewal quotes, will reduce renewing members’ premium bills by almost 15%.

Each member’s dividend will vary.  Although every renewing member will receive a dividend, the amount of the dividend is affected by two things: longevity in the APEI program (maximum benefits apply after 3 years) and the member’s loss record.  Those members with fewer than average losses will see higher than average dividends.  This is just one more reason to do all you can to keep losses in check.

Alone, the dividend is a wonderful way to reward program members and help keep insurance costs low.  But that’s not all.  Also at the Spring meeting, the board again approved using some excess company assets, or equity, to reduce premiums for everyone.  Even new members will enjoy these premium reductions.

Premium reductions will lower the cost for each APEI member’s insurance by another 10%.

Between the two programs—the dividend and the premium reduction—the cost for insurance for APEI members is being cut almost 25%. 

Insurance costs in general are rising.  Although we hope these programs will result in lower premiums compared to last year, that is not a guarantee.  Claims and reinsurance costs continue to rise.  But even if a member’s premium doesn’t go down, these programs nonetheless help offset any other increases. 
Sunday, April 1, 2012/Author: Alaska Public Entity Insurance/Number of views (1836)/Comments (0)/
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