Risk management consultant updates Clay board 

Clay County Commission

Dan Haglund 

The Clay County Board of Commissioners got its first risk management report in four years on Tuesday, due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2021.

Tom Suppes, Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) risk management consultant, presented to the board in Moorhead. The MCIT report has traditionally been given every two years.

Suppes first gave a little background on his role to the board, which has new members since his last report in 2019.

“MCIT is a joint powers public entity risk-sharing pool. We’re not an insurance company,” Suppes said. “We try to be responsive to our county members’ service and coverage needs.”

 Suppes, who assumed his current role in 2017, gave a brief history of the MCIT’s role in working with the county.

“Back in the 1970s, coverage was getting very difficult to find,, especially workers compensation, primarily for law enforcement,” Suppes said. “It was getting quite expensive, so in 1979 the counties decided to pool resources and fund their own workers compensation, so you did.”

Suppes said the idea was so successful that in the following year, the property and casualty liability coverage (which includes autos) was added. Clay County has been with MCIT since that year, 1980.

“Now, 44 years later, we actually have 81 of (Minnesota’s) 87 counties in the trust,” Suppes said. “All but the six large, self-funded counties (Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, St. Louis and Olmstead). We also have over 390 public entities affiliated with our counties, such as your Soil and Water Conservation District, historical societies, joint powers entities, as well as lake improvement districts, economic development authorities and housing redevelopment authorities.”

Suppes said one change last year was a switchover to a new cyber insurance company, Counties Reinsurance, Ltd., which includes increased coverage limited and sub-limits for no additional cost to counties.

Suppes also updated the board on the MCIT dividend paid back to the county. Of the more than $7 million returned to all state entities in 2022, Clay County received $127,849. He noted that MCIT has returned such dividends every year since its inception.

Regarding MCIT claims from 2018-22, Suppes showed that sheriff and jail operations lead in both severity and frequency, followed by highway, then hospital and nursing homes.

“It’s not too surprising, as they are all 24/7 operations and some of those jobs can be hazardous,” Suppes said.

Moving on to workers compensation, Suppes said counties and other entities are graded on a 1.0 average claims baseline, with Clay coming in at 0.824. That means based on the statewide claims pool, Clay County is more than 17 percent below average.

“That creates savings for Clay County of $83,673,” Suppes said. “So we applaud that. We encourage you to continue that work.”

With aggregate property/casualty claims from the same time frame, automobile claims have led both in frequency and severity. There are about 11,500 vehicles covered within the trust, Suppes said, and about $7.6 billion in properties. As for claims frequency, the properties and general liability lead in frequency, and law enforcement liability leads in severity.

Suppes summed up his report with a reiteration of MCIT services, including consulting, training, risk management and workers comp workshops, cyber-security updates, specialized counseling services for employees and their family members, and the promotion of best safety practices.

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