Archive for Thursday, June 20, 2013

Armed employees could invalidate school districts’ insurance policies

June 20, 2013


— The company that insures most of Kansas’ school districts says it won’t provide coverage for districts that allow armed employees on school premises.

EMC Insurance Companies has told its agents not to offer or renew policies for Kansas school districts that allow concealed weapons under a law that takes effect July 1.

The new law lets school boards designate employees who can bring guns to school provided they have a valid Kansas concealed carry permit. Currently, only law enforcement officers can carry guns on school property. Unless a school board approves a policy permitting staff to carry firearms in schools only law enforcement would be allowed to carry them in buildings.

EMC insures about 90 percent of the state’s 286 school districts, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Bernie Zalaznik, EMC’s resident vice president in Wichita, said Monday that the company believes the decision is in its best financial interest because of the potential liabilities.

“We understand that school districts have every right to decide which way they want to go,” Zalaznik said.

Zalaznik said he had heard from about six districts across Kansas that are interested in allowing employees to carry firearms in schools.

David Shriver, director of the Kansas Association of School Boards’ insurance program, said about a dozen small districts have inquired about allowing weapons. KASB is advising all districts not to allow weapons in schools.

The Lawrence school board has said it has no plans to take advantage of the law.

Likewise, no Shawnee County districts plan to take advantage of the new law.

“We haven’t discussed it,” said Tim Hallacy, Silver Lake Unified School District 372 superintendent. “I don’t see that as being a discussion point, and personally I’m not very interested.”

Topeka Superintendent Julie Ford said the district planned to leave security to the 20 police officers who are in schools on any given day.

EMC insures the Shawnee Heights and Silver Lake districts.

Members of the Wichita school board, the largest district in Kansas, met on Monday and discussed a proposed weapons policy that incorporates existing practices in buildings. The policy, which goes back to the board next week, would mark buildings in the south-central Kansas district as gun-free zones for teachers, employees and the public.


Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 5 months ago

Hence the idiomatic "Law of Unintended Consequences" rears its ugly head towards our legislators yet again.

When will they learn to research a little more deeply into issues? (The question is rhetorical: o need to answer, thank you.)

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 5 months ago

There's always self insurance, and it wouldn't be the first time that Lawrence has had to self insure. After the city was deemed 100% at fault in the accident that killed my friend Donna (Graham) Wortman in 1986, the city's insurance company had to pay out $1,000,000 over a period of time to her husband and two small children. Subsequently, the city's liability insurance was cancelled, and no other insurance company was willing to take the risk of insuring Lawrence, Kansas. So self insurance was the only solution.

But, it's been a number of years since that incident, and I've been informed that the city of Lawrence is now able to purchase liability insurance again.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 5 months ago

It is true that self-insurance is an option, at least intellectually. The City's example would serve as anecdotal evidence that it can be done if the proper conditions are met. I wonder whether the school district, which is independent of City government, has the fiscal wherewithal to self-insure.

hipper_than_hip 4 years, 5 months ago

It's not about the kids - it's about the money. The insurance company would rather deny your life insurance claim if you or your child are the victim of a mass shooting (terrorist acts are not covered), than risk paying for an accident caused by someone legally carrying a gun.

costello 4 years, 5 months ago

Of course, it's about money, not children. They're in the business of making money. In this case they've decided the risk is too high for their taste.

I'm not sure how life insurance enters into the discussion, but unless you've traveled to a war zone most life insurance policies will pay off even if you're the victim of terrorism.

Most shootings in schools have nothing to do with terrorism anyway.

Tradways 4 years, 5 months ago

Guess the insurance company can afford to be sued when a teacher is hurt or killed because they were not allowed to protect themselves.

question4u 4 years, 5 months ago

I wasn't allowed to park my motorcycle in the classroom. The school made me park it on the street even though I have a valid license. If I'd had it with me before the shooting started I would have been able to get away without getting hurt, and no one can say that I wouldn't have. Therefore I'm suing the school district, even though the law says that it's up to school districts to decide whether to let teachers bring motorcycles into classrooms.

Yes, insurance companies can afford to be sued over cases that they aren't likely to lose.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 5 months ago

The insurance company won't lose this lawsuit, Tradways. A plaintiff would have to prove that the insurance company refused to renew a school district's policy for an unreasonable or illegal reason, or a reason precluded in the previous contract. I know of no law that requires insurance companies to underwrite employers who allow CCW license-holders to carry on business property.

50YearResident 4 years, 5 months ago

CC has been in effect for over 5 years. Name some bad events that "macho CC holders" have caused in that 5 years. Please limit the events to Douglas County. Paranoid? That describes the people afraid of guns through ignorance of how they keep people safe.

50YearResident 4 years, 5 months ago

OK then, name some events that these paranoid people have caused havoc in. Keep the events to the eastern 1/3 of Kansas since Douglas County is void of them.

gatekeeper 4 years, 5 months ago

Feeling the need to pack heat all the time to protect yourself is the definition of paranoid. Those of us that aren't live freely and happily. Never had a gun, never will and don't go around feeling like I have to be ready for the next person to attack me. If you live in fear, you aren't really living. Considering that most that are shot are gun owners kind of sums it up. I don't have an issue with any law abiding citizen wanting to own a gun, but feeling that you have to have it with you all the time is just ridiculous. And I'm from a military family, members served in every war from WWI - Iraq/Afghan (except Vietnam), many members being combat veterans and eventually officers. I grew up with guns in the house, but NONE of them has ever wanted to CC.

50YearResident 4 years, 5 months ago

Packing Heat is a slang term used only by people from the criminal element or by gang members. CC holders do not pack heat, thank you. A large number of former military members are also CC holders. Evidently you, personally were never in the military. It seems odd to me that when people are on active duty they are praised for their role in carrying guns but after they are out of uniform they become untrustworthy if they continue to carry a guy. Why is that?

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 5 months ago

I know a person who has a concealed carry permit, and it was shown to me. And, I was shown a picture of the gun, too. But not the gun itself, because that was almost always left at home.

Larry Sturm 4 years, 5 months ago

The Kansas governor and the legislature don't need any input just pass laws and everybody will follow.

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

Interesting. I guess the insurance company feels that it's riskier to have CC holders carrying in schools than not. Hmm.

They are in the business of determining risk, aren't they? I wonder why they don't agree with those who say that having cc holders carrying will make places safer.

verity 4 years, 5 months ago

Ya think?

How dare you not agree with the NRA meme?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 5 months ago

Maybe the risk they're looking at is a different risk than what you're suggesting. As was noted in an above comment, insurance companies are in business to make money. Therefore, might we assume the risk they're addressing is their own financial risk. And where is their financial risk? From CC holders? No. It's from lawsuits that will be filed if something terrible happens.

I think it's safe to assume we've all heard about juries in civil lawsuits making some pretty outrageous decisions, awarding many millions in cases that seemed to have little if any merit. But the victims were sympathetic and the insurance companies had loads of money, so let's just award them a bunch of it.

So if a deranged gunman enters a school and shoots up the place, as happened at Sandy Hook, and a teacher or administrator with a CC permit hustled the kids into a closet to keep them safe, as happened at Sandy Hook (though there was no CC permit holder there), some jury might conclude that because the CC holder didn't confront the shooter, or didn't do so quickly enough, then the school, and hence the insurance company, is held liable. With extremely sympathetic victims, I could easily see a very large award, even though given the circumstances, I could also see that the actions of the CC permit holder were perfectly reasonable.

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

That's possible.

Are people suing schools now for not keeping their kids safe? I don't know.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 5 months ago

I googled "sandy hook lawsuits" and the first to pop up mentioned a lawsuit filed on behalf of a surviving child, the lawsuit was for 100 million dollars. The named plaintiffs were the Connecticut Board of Education, the Connecticut Dept. of Education and the Education Commissioner. This was only the first of many lawsuits filed. Yes, we live in a very litigious society.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 5 months ago

Whoops. "named plaintiffs" should have been "named defendants".

kernal 4 years, 5 months ago

Bunch of ambulance chasing attorneys trying to make a buck off of victims grief. Ridiculous and slimy actions. The plaintiffs named in that suit can't be held responsible for the irresponsible actions of the shooter's mother nor for the lack of mental health care for the son. This entire controversy pretty much boils down to the lack of mental health care in this country. The sooner we attack that issue, the better.

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

The question would be what sort of responsibility schools have to ensure a safe environment.

50YearResident 4 years, 5 months ago

To use your viewpoint here, The Insurance Company has determined that children under 25 are at high risk when driving a car and they charge a premium for those drivers. Do you think these underage drivers should be allowed to drive to school or should we not allow them to attend so we can keep the non drivers safe? Keep in mind that Insurance has determined these kids are "high risk". Do you let your high risk teenagers drive?

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

That analogy might be valid if the insurance companies were saying that they'd charge higher premiums.

But they're saying they won't cover the schools at all.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 5 months ago

jafs, I agree that the analogy doesn't work very well. However, check out what EMC's VP Bernie Zalaznik said: "...the company believes the decision is in its best financial interest because of the potential liabilities."

Insurance companies (bless them!) like to make money. After crunching the numbers, this company has come to the conclusion that it cannot raise the premium high enough that they feel confident they can cover the potential liabilities. That says something!

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 5 months ago

Isn't there usually a liability limit per incident? There certainly is with car insurance.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 5 months ago

We're second-guessing the insurance company. They've come to their conclusions what their exposure is, and what their liability is likely to be. They have concluded that it is all too high for them to be certain they can cover it.

Look, it's a business. They don't have a responsibility to sell insurance to the schools. They have every right to pull out of this line of policies, or to refuse to do business with schools with whom they feel the exposure is too high. If they thought they could make money by enforcing limitations, or raising premiums, they would do that, don't you think? I mean, it's not like the insurance company is a front for some social engineering venture to deprive us all of our 2nd Amendment rights.

jonas_opines 4 years, 5 months ago

"I mean, it's not like the insurance company is a front for some social engineering venture to deprive us all of our 2nd Amendment rights."

This could be a Newsmax or Free Republic story within a week.

sciencegeek 4 years, 5 months ago

How ironic!

Those who have been rigging the system in favor of private business have now run into a barrier created by a business decision by private companies.


Liberty275 4 years, 5 months ago

The karma already happens every time a mentally ill person enters a school and kills children.

50YearResident 4 years, 5 months ago

Who knows, a competitive bid for new insurance might even get a lower bid cost than the present one and cover the new law about CC. It wouldn't hurt to test the water, would it? Things change, maybe it will change for the better. I bet if the present insurance company was pressured with the thought of losing the entire state of Kansas School insurance, they just might have an attitude change.

gatekeeper 4 years, 5 months ago

So where are the teachers that are carrying supposed to keep their weapons? In their desk? On their person? Ever heard of kids getting into the teachers dess? Ever heard of kids attacking teachers (I've seen it)? Does the teacher then have to keep it in a gun safe so it's secured? If so, then in a crisis she/he has to not only get to the safe, get it unlocked, get the weapon, secure the classroom and the kids.

See how stupid this is? How about allowing the armed officers that are at schools to be the security force and not the teachers? Just what we need is a bunch of armed teachers running around. As a student, I would feel threatened knowing teachers were armed. I had an Algebra teacher in the 8th grade have a mental breakdown in class. started screaming, threw his chair against the wall and walked out for good. Glad he wasn't allowed to pack heat.

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 5 months ago

There was an armed Sheriff working at the school when the Columbine shooting happened. The Sheriff was able to fire off a couple of rounds but had no effect other than changing the shooters path and being able to get back to his car to call in a report.

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 5 months ago

When will the insurance companies realize that guns only make things safer?

For instance, I will let my children play at someone's house, ONLY if there is a gun in that house. If I find out my kid is going to a house without a gun, it makes me very worried for my child's safety, so I give my kid a gun to take to the house, just to be safe.

You can never be too careful about not having guns around your children.

John Kyle 4 years, 5 months ago

The answer must be MORE guns. There has to be someone we can arm with a gun which will allow us to be insured.

nekansan 4 years, 5 months ago

I think the perfect solution to this issue is to allow the NRA the opportunity to step up and provide liability insurance for CCW holders and sell CCW liability to businesses. If they truly believe it is such a clear cut improvement to safety then this would seem to be a massive money making opportunity and should be extremely inexpensive since it reduces not increases risk. If not, then they are in the position of having to admit that all might not be as rosy with their claims that CCW increases safety and reduces violence. Many other organizations provide liability insurance for their members. Time for the NRA to put their money where their mouth is.

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