Summer is upon us, and while parents are planning their children's summer activities, school administrators are planning for their school's coming financial year--including renewals for student accident insurance.
Few can help these schools prepare better than Short Hills, N.J.-based independent insurance brokerage Bollinger Inc. When the company created the student accident insurance program in 1946, it was a brand-new product. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body for high-school sports, asked Bollinger to create a product to cover all the athletes in the state.
The product extended to all students later on, and now Bollinger writes coverage for more schools in New Jersey than all its competitors combined. The company has also filed the product in 37 other states, with other big players being Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Texas and Florida.
Joe Mignon, executive vice president in the benefits division of Bollinger, said 60 years of experience has fine-tuned the process so that it practically operates itself.
"We've seen a lot of folks come in and out of this market," he said. "We've had the same carrier on this for over 30 years, and this is the specialty we are best known for."
For the student accident program, Bollinger is in the position of managing general underwriter, wholesaling the majority of the product through brokers and agents. The program has the option for
Centeno compulsory plans that cover all students in all school-sponsored and school-supervised activities, as well as athletic accident plans that cover interscholastic athletes while practicing and competing. Voluntary accident plans offer parents the opportunity to purchase insurance for school-time only, or on a 24-hour, year-round basis.
In 38 states, Bollinger insures 525 public school districts, 100 private and charter schools, and 600 individual parochial schools. The choice of coverage depends on the type of school and location.
"It varies depending on the state that the school is located in," Mignon said. "The likelihood is, if they're in New Jersey, it's going to be a compulsory plan with blanket coverage. If they're in Texas, it's just going to be an athletic plan with voluntary coverage available to the parents who want to purchase it."
Private and parochial schools, Mignon said, almost always secure the compulsory, blanket coverage. "It could be that they are charging tuition and include the costs of the insurance into the tuition," he said.
Public schools are around a 60-40 split between the compulsory coverage option and sports coverage combined with a voluntary plan offering.
In the 40 percent that choose the sports combined with the voluntary plan, Mignon said, it's the school board that pays for the athletic coverage.
"They know that's where all the risk is," he said. "They don't pay for the school-time only or round-the-clock. They distribute brochures, and the parents that wish to purchase that coverage can do so."
Schools typically know what to do and how to handle the coverage, so summer tends to be a time of painless renewals.
"They have set seasons for sports, they have set days that schools open and close, they know the information they have to provide to us, we know the information we've got to provide to them--it's all pretty standard stuff," Mignon said.
In the 20 years Mignon has been working for Bollinger, the company has gone from 35 employees to 535 employees, he said. Most of its growth, both organic and through mergers and acquisitions, has occurred over the last 10 to 12 years.
Bollinger still has a great relationship with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, and has added programs for accident and sickness coverage for about 200 colleges and universities. Bollinger's sports department covers lacrosse leagues, soccer leagues, the Amateur Softball Association of America and U.S. Lacrosse, just to name a few.
"The student accident was sort of the basis for a lot of these specialized programs that we have," Mignon said.
May 1, 2007
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