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Safety pays off: County gets $167,000 insurance dividend

Becker County will receive a 2018 dividend of nearly $167,000 from its insurance trust, thanks to fewer property and casualty claims across the system and fewer workers' compensation claims by Becker County workers.

"With standard insurance companies, that dividend would go to stock-holders, you wouldn't get that ($166,966) back," said Don Daraskevich, risk management consultant for the Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust.

The joint powers self-insurance entity covers 81 of Minnesota's 87 counties, including Becker County. The total dividend paid out was $11.75 million across all member counties.

Since 2010, Daraskevich said, aggregate rates have dropped by nearly 31 percent for property and casualty coverage and over 32 percent for workers' compensation coverage. "Our members are safety and loss conscious — kudos to our members for doing that," he told commissioners Tuesday.

The size of the trust, covering most counties outside the metro area (which are large enough to self-insure) means the trust is able to spread out even big individual losses over several years, keeping annual rates stable for members, he said.

Auto-related claims and property claims made up the bulk of property-casuality claims across the state from 2014 through 2018, he said.

With workers' compensation claims, just over half came from sheriff's office and jail operations and highway departments — with deputies and correctional officers on duty 24 hours, and highway crews working as the weather demands, both departments are active far beyond the standard 8-5 weekday office shift, Daraskevich said. "Law enforcement operates 24-7, and it's very volatile, a very risky occupation," he said. "On the workers comp side you should be commended — you're doing better than the average county."

For the first time since 2015, Becker County's worker's comp rate was ($12,638) below the base cost of coverage in 2019.

Among other changes, the MCIT now covers all drones used by county employees for official duties. Liability coverage for county data lost to a hacker attack was increased to $100,000 from $50,000. And all Class 3 dams in the county now have liability coverage. There are Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 dams, and Class 3 dams have minimal potential impact downstream if they fail, Daraskevich said.

The insurance trust also offers a popular employee assistance program, employee training, consultation services and awareness and prevention materials.