Ad-Hoc Committee-Review Insurance Coverage for Weapons-Related Incidents
Date: June 30, 2017
The committee was charged with obtaining information regarding whether it would be feasible for the University to provide an insurance policy for faculty, staff, and students, that includes:
• Death and/or injury resulting from weapons-induced incidents on campus;
• Long-term disability insurance resulting from weapons-induced incidents on campus;
• Lost-wages insurance resulting from weapons-induced incidents on campus covering the entire span of any and all disabilities induced by said incident up to projected age of retirement.
The committee included Meagan Patterson (chair), Annette Delaney (staff representative), Joseph Kollhoff (student representative), and Belinda Sturm (faculty representative). In preparing this report, the committee consulted with Ola Faucher (Director of Human Resources) and Michael Rosenberg (Director of Risk Management).
Michael Rosenberg indicated that such policies (at least in a broad sense) do exist, and are typically labeled “violence in the workplace” or “accidental death and dismemberment” coverage. Historically, these policies are most frequently used to cover employees who work in hazardous occupations (e.g., late night convenience store or fast food employees) and who do not have coverage from other sources (e.g., the employer does not provide health insurance). Both accidental and intentional injuries would be covered. These policies would generally only cover employees (faculty, staff, and student employees), not students who are not employees.
Per Ola Faucher, under KBOR regulations, the University cannot take out health insurance policies on behalf of employees, the University is only allowed to provide the options available through the State Employee Health Plan for employees to buy such policies.
Michael Rosenberg stated that he has been in informal contact with peer institutions (including other KBOR institutions and other Big 12 schools), and that none of them have indicated an intention to purchase or provide additional insurance coverage for weapons-related injuries or deaths.
For faculty and staff, there is some coverage already in place (e.g., health, life, and disability insurance). Lost wages due to a weapons-related injury could be covered by worker’s compensation, however decisions about coverage are made by the state on an individual basis. Michael Rosenberg stated that coverage under worker’s compensation is “more likely than not” and that the University would advocate for coverage for a faculty or staff member who was injured in a weapons-related incident while on the job. It is less likely that worker’s compensation would cover faculty or staff who were injured on campus when not directly performing job duties (e.g., while walking across campus), but again decisions are made by the state on a case-by-case basis. Worker’s compensation would cover a portion of lost wages for the time that an employee was unable to work due to injury. Worker’s compensation would not provide for wages in perpetuity in the case of a permanent disability. The state provides long-term disability insurance to benefits-eligible staff.
Student employees could be covered under worker’s compensation if they were injured while performing job duties, but worker’s compensation would not cover students who are not KU employees or who are injured outside of their employee role (e.g., while attending class).
Students who have health insurance should be covered for injuries through their health insurance policies, pursuant to the coverage and limitations of those policies. Currently approximately 13% of students have health insurance through the KBOR student insurance plan; however, KU does not have data on students who are covered through self-purchased private insurance or through coverage on their parents’ plans. Nationally, approximately 14% of adults ages 18-24 do not have health insurance coverage (National Center for Health Statistics, 2016)
There are a variety of existing policies that could cover a gun owner in the event of injury or other damage (e.g., property damage) caused by accidental discharge of a firearm. Homeowners or renters policies frequently include such coverage. There are also specifically designed firearms insurance policies. The University could provide information about such policies, but could not mandate their purchase. These policies would not provide coverage in the event of an intentional shooting.
Michael Rosenberg stated that the office of risk management holds the opinion that current coverage is sufficient and that additional coverage is not needed. Additional coverage could be purchased to cover University employees, however such coverage would likely duplicate existing coverage (e.g., health and life insurance) for most employees. The purchase of additional coverage for students would be more challenging, since the types of policies that currently exist are generally designed to cover employees. Technically, the University could purchase a policy that would cover students and visitors to campus, but this would be inconsistent with the general practice of not purchasing insurance for these populations. The lack of coverage for students is a concern for the members of the ad hoc committee.
The University may wish to examine additional relevant policies in addition to insurance considerations. For example, if a student is seriously injured or killed midway through a semester, is there a policy in place that would allow for a refund of tuition?