Main menu


Higher education and insurance system

featured image

As with other policyholders, challenging insurance market trends exacerbated by cybersecurity risks, climate change, and COVID-19 are hitting higher education policyholders and pushing them against higher premiums. Reduced or limited coverage. These conditions – shrinking coverage and rising premiums – are signs of a ‘tough’ insurance market. (The tough market is caused by a mismatch between the rising demand for policyholder coverage and the declining risk appetite of insurers.) However, higher education policyholders are exacerbating existing market conditions. face the inherent risks of This includes:

  • Any Title IX claim related to discrimination, sexual misconduct or assault, or harassment.

  • fraternity and sorority haze;

  • Exercise injury or disease, including traumatic brain injury and heat-related diseases;

  • Open or Concealed Carry Method and Active Shooter Protocol.

  • college admissions scandal (for exampleOperation Varsity Blues);

  • Student protests and law enforcement responses.When

  • post-egg environment.

In addition to the inherent types of risks, the nature of these risks increases our exposure to liability. For example, the latency period for certain claims, such as traumatic brain injury, and the revival statute for sexual abuse claims converged, resulting in a temporary expansion of the university’s tort liability. In response, most insurance companies for higher education have limits on both types of claims.

And the increased exposure that universities experience is not just the duration of potential claims. So are the magnitudes of these claims. United Educators (UE), a mutual risk retention group serving K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, announced that in its 2022 Large Loss Report, the number of publicly reported awards or settlements of at least $250,000 would be We have found that the numbers are increasing year by year.

For example, in 2020, the University of California, San Francisco confirmed that it paid a $1.14 million ransom to the criminals behind the Netwalker cyberattack on its medical school in exchange for a tool to unlock encrypted data. did. The hacker’s original demand was his $3 million, which the school negotiated down.

The UE’s 2021 statistics also show that the University of Southern California agreed to pay 800 million to more than 700 women who accused George Tindall, the university’s longtime campus obstetrician and gynecologist, of sexual abuse. There is a $52 million settlement. Prior to that, USC had paid her $215 million to settle a class action lawsuit representing about 18,000 of her Tyndall patients. The total $1.1 billion settlement is reportedly the largest sexual abuse payment in the history of higher education.

UCSF ransom payments and USC settlements are extreme, but they are not the only data points in the scope of higher education settlement payments/awards. Large liability claims are on the rise and there is no reason to expect this trend to reverse.

New to the list of risks facing higher education policyholders is the potential impact of the recent Supreme Court ruling. New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n Inc. v. BruenContending that the Second Amendment includes the right to carry a handgun outside the home for self-defense, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org. Overturned half a century of abortion rights. While it is too early to fully predict the impact of either case on higher education, the changing legal environment creates uncertainty, at least from a risk management perspective.

Colleges and universities can consult insurance coverage attorneys to review exposures, audit operations, and prepare for legal and coverage issues that will inevitably arise. After all, even educators need a back-to-school tune-up!

Copyright © 2022, Huton Andrews Kurth LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Vol. XII, No. 234