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Pooling Insight & Overview

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

Local governments began forming pools after commercial insurers abandoned the municipal market in the 1970s. Pools were created to reduce and stabilize long-term insurance costs and ensure access to coverage and services needed to sustain key local government functions.


Many pools ensure appropriate governance and operations by undergoing the rigorous standards or accreditation processes of respected national and state organizations.


Pools harness the power of group leverage and emphasize shared accountability. When two or more public entities share risk, aggregate costs are less than the sum of participating entities’ costs. All members’ contributions to a risk pool help pay claims for any member’s claims. Pool members share knowledge and information, helping each other to avoid and reduce future losses.


Today about 450 pools serve municipalities, school districts, and other U.S. and Canadian public entities. There are more than 90,000 public entities in the United States. The Association of Governmental Risk Pools (AGRiP) estimates that at least 80 percent of them participate in one or more pools.


 

History and Current Status of Pools



County governments in Utah receive only a small portion of the overall property tax revenues paid by property owners each year. However, they put that money to work for citizens creating infrastructure such as buildings, vehicles, and even roads. These assets make it possible for counties to provide many important services communities rely on, such as public safety and emergency services, health departments and aging programs, libraries and recreation services, and countless others. Ownership of those assets is an important responsibility counties take seriously. If buildings, vehicles, and other infrastructure become unsafe, counties can be liable for any harm done to other property or people.

However, up until 1992, counties were forced to rely on commercial insurance providers who were abandoning counties or charging them huge premiums with very little coverage. Thanks to innovation and a spirit of collaboration, the counties in Utah came together and created a joint revenue fund which is now known as the Utah Counties Indemnity Pool. Today, the Pool is one of over 500 government risk-sharing pools that exist in the United States, and we’re proud that it continues the important stewardship of protecting county assets.


Here’s how it works: Most of Utah’s 29 counties agree to a membership in the Pool, and contribute to the fund annually based on the value of their assets. Big counties pay more, because they need more coverage, and smaller counties pay less. Collectively, the Pool uses funds invested by members to pay for claims that are filed throughout the year. Because the risk of claims is spread among the entire pool, counties get excellent coverage and lower costs which, in turn, helps keep property taxes lower for citizens.

Since the Pool is managed by counties, members are not in it to make a profit, and as such, the Pool works hard to keep costs minimal by helping to lower risk and prevent claims against counties. To do that, the Pool provides ongoing training and alerts about all kinds of potential risks and problems that can occur when county buildings, vehicles, and other assets are in use. The Pool believes strongly in the old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, so the Pool invests in quality educators and systems to teach member employees and stewards of county assets the best practices of safety and security.


Because the Pool is owned and controlled by the counties and only serves counties and county-related entities, they’re better positioned to stay on top of the unique and emerging needs of counties, and their staff provides more than 75 years of local government, loss control, and claims handing expertise. The Pool also arranges for legal advice that complements and supports that of the county attorney, and partner with the Utah Association of Counties to ensure risk-related legislative issues are addressed. Collaboration, protection, training, and support — that’s what makes membership in the Utah Counties Indemnity Pool not just the smart choice for counties, but a great deal for citizens.


 

Important Points


• Pools’ responsible financial practices enhance the ultimate taxpayer value of this inter-governmental cooperation. • Pools are not-for-profit entities. Any “surplus” accumulated is returned to members in the form of reduced future rates and/or dividends. • Pools understand local government risks and needs and work with members to avoid losses that would otherwise inflate taxpayer costs. • Pools provide long-term risk management; pools do not offer insurance as a commodity. Their goal is to contain and stabilize long-term costs while reducing risks and increasing safety.


 

UCIP


The Utah Counties Indemnity Pool is a public agency insurance mutual organized in accordance with the Utah Interlocal Cooperation Act and the Utah Immunity Act. It was formed in 1992 as a way for counties to obtain a stable alternative to traditional insurance.


All pools practice self-regulation through member-based boards of directors/trustees. The UCIP board is comprised of many elected officials and those who deal directly with the daily operations of counties. This is an effective form of regulation because the trustees – and the members they represent – understand the risks they are managing and have skin in the game. UCIP’s Board of Trustees are committed to keeping elected and appointed municipal officials connected to pooling concepts, invested in pooling outcomes, and committed to a long-term vision.


Innovative coverages, such as cyber liability, have been generated by UCIP to continually address the changing needs of counties. UCIP also provides training to elected officials and county personnel throughout the year.



The Value of Ownership
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