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A California Wastewater Utility Success Story: Pooling Risks to Reduce Liability Exposure and Insurance Costs

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In 1986 a looming crisis in obtaining insurance coverage led a group of wastewater utilities in the San Francisco Bay Area to look at alternative ways to address the exposures common to their agencies. From that limited and experimental starting point the California Sanitation Risk Management Authority (CSRMA) was formed and today has 60 member agencies statewide. Through the years CSRMA has developed into an innovative and leading edge joint powers authority that provides some of the broadest insurance coverage and the most comprehensive risk management services available to any group of small and medium-sized wastewater agencies in the country.

The success of CSRMA is in large part a direct outcome of the public-private partnership arrangement between wastewater utility managers/directors and professional insurance administrators. Personnel from member agencies serve on the authority board of directors as well as serving on standing committees charged with duties ranging from reviewing claims, to analyzing loss histories and initiating new risk control programs. This focused coordination, combining the industry-specific knowledge of public utility personnel with the expertise of insurance brokers and professional risk managers, has allowed CSRMA to develop unique coverage that is unavailable in normal insurance markets while also continuing to effectively minimize our insurance loss ratios.

The presentation will focus on sharing some of the innovative approaches CSRMA has taken to protect its member agencies and public resources by reducing the risk of loss. Whether big or small, metropolitan or rural, all water and wastewater utility agencies can learn to better manage risk and in so doing help fulfill our mutual commitment to serve the public as cost effectively and safely as possible.
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Keywords: Risk management; claims handling; dividends; exposure; group purchase programs; insurance; liability; loss history

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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