The University of California’s mission of teaching, research, public service, and healthcare is multi‐faceted and encompasses many event‐driven activities on our campuses. Previously, student organization events and activities held on‐ campus were not covered by the University of California’s insurance programs. This posed a problem for both students and the University because:
Students had to rely on personal or family financial resources to defend a claim or lawsuit arising from their activities.
The University had no financial recourse when its property was damaged by student activities or when it received a claim or lawsuit arising from student and/or any other supporting organization’s activities.
In light of these problems, the Office of the President (UCOP) has set a goal to develop a web portal with access to insurance that enables University faculty, staff, students, and supporting third parties (e.g., foundations, alumni associations, etc.) to procure coverage that protects them against lawsuits and claims arising from events. By strategically managing risk, we can reduce the chances of loss, create greater financial stability, and protect our resources.
To remedy the problem, the University has purchased a commercial insurance policy to cover most on‐campus student organization events and built a web portal – CampusConnexions – that provides access to insurance for students, foundations, alumni associations, and support groups. The web portal also provides access to insurance for third‐party vendors and contractors who conduct activities on our campuses and previously had no insurance.
With over 200,000 students, the sheer size of the University and its myriad organizations created the biggest challenge. For instance, one campus alone has over 900 registered student organizations. Procuring insurance for events had been highly decentralized and, because of complexity, often didn’t occur. For example, in addition to purchasing the insurance itself, most insurance carriers required that UC provide a summary of all activities taking place on a given campus. In our highly‐ decentralized environment, such a summary was not feasible. CampusConnexions was created to provide a centralized source of information including an accurate accounting of the number and types of events held on campuses. Initially this was met with much resistance, as campus representatives viewed it as “one more thing to do.”
- Initial investment
The initial investment to build the CampusConnexions web portal was provided by the insurance broker at no additional charge.
- Fiscal results, current and anticipated
While the CampusConnexions program is focused on providing better protection and maintaining a centralized source for data, it also provides cost savings. Prior to this program, individual campus departments such as Student Affairs were purchasing this coverage individually for single events. Of greater concern were events that were being held without insurance. There were two significant claims, one involving a fatality where the student groups were left in the lawsuit, paying for their own defense and/or relying on their parents’ insurance policies. By purchasing this insurance on a systemwide basis we achieve savings through volume purchasing, saving approximately 10% of the previous cost of procuring individual policies.
- Current action and next steps
We encourage all UC locations to continue to promote CampusConnexions within their campus communities. A student activities workgroup has been formed so that student organizations can learn “best practices” from their sister campuses. We will continue to monitor and enhance this program to meet the University’s needs.
- Concluding statement
CampusConnexions has filled a great need for the University. It provides easy access to coverage where there was none before. Recently, there was a very well known speaker that appeared at a registered student event. As she was exiting the stage, she fell, breaking her hip. She submitted a claim to the insurance carrier and they responded on behalf of the student organization and the University. University officials can rest easy knowing that a product has been put in place to protect against these types of losses.