PACE expects lower claims to lead to member savings

Even after a December freeze that caused more than $3.6 million in claims, members of Property and Casualty Coverage for Education (PACE) are on track for some encouraging news on next year's rates.

Mike Doherty, PACE's chief financial officer, told the insurance pool's trustees at their March 3 meeting that a drop in claims this year should translate to a modest single-digit increase in rates for 2014-15. Final calculations have not been made, however, and three months remain in the fiscal year.

"We don't expect to see anything (near) the 18 percent increase we did last year," Doherty said.

Doherty suggested that because of the drop in claims this might be a good time to consider doubling earthquake coverage statewide, to $200 million from the current $100 million. That increased coverage would cost about $1 million annually, shared among members.

When PACE was formed in 2006, total earthquake coverage stood at $300 million. It has been reduced since to help keep member rates down, but Doherty said current coverage stands significantly below the $370 million that earthquake modeling suggests based on the total value of school facilities statewide and the possibility of an earthquake.

Trustees by consensus agreed to look more closely at the numbers and consider increasing earthquake coverage at their next meeting.

In other action, trustees: 

  • Heard a presentation about a rewritten coverage document that adds clarity on what is covered. It takes effect July 1.
  • Learned more about SafeSchools and SafeColleges, the online training resources that have been used by Oregon PACE members more than 300,000 times since July 1. Brian Taylor of SafeSchools/SafeColleges also presented information on potentially piloting an online system that would allow anonymous reporting of safety concerns at individual sites.
  • Heard about plans for "PACE Day: Safe and Secure Schools," coming up April 25 in Eugene, as well as a presentation on a new Boundary Invasion Toolkit that will be made available there.

"I think this toolkit is going to be a great resource for our members," said Scott Neufeld, PACE's director of risk management.