Northwest ISD Rolls Out Budget-Friendly Risk Management Resources
When Fund members with Auto coverage are involved in vehicle collisions, our adjusters' start working to resolve the claim and get them back on the road quickly and cost-effectively. Claim-reporting delays undermine the process and often result in unbudgeted expenses.
"We're seeing parts and labor prices like we've never seen before," said TASB Auto Claims Manager Janet Justus. "Rental car costs and vehicle storage fees are also through the roof. The longer a district vehicle sits idle, the bigger the bill."
Justus adds that Fund data indicates a connection between claim-resolution delays and litigation. It all amounts to a perfect storm that's driving auto coverage costs to historic highs for cash-strapped schools.
In an era when in-vehicle safety features like blind spot warnings and automatic parallel parking (yup, it's a thing) are removing human error from behind the wheel, Northwest ISD's Excellence Award-winning initiative proves that low-tech, low-budget risk management solutions have their place.
Northwest ISD serves more than 30,000 students in 14 cities, towns, and communities, including Fort Worth, where law enforcement doesn’t always respond to minor vehicle collisions. Kitty Poehler, the district's executive director of benefits and risk management, said that was a problem when it came to reporting claims.
"Some of our drivers were understandably shaken immediately after accidents, even if they weren't at fault,” said Poehler. "Exchanging insurance information with other drivers, taking photos, and collecting other basic information wasn't always top of mind. We wanted to give our team a user-friendly tool they could use if an officer wasn't there to take an accident report."
Poehler collaborated with front-line leadership to develop a simple flow chart that walks drivers through the district's post-accident procedures. Employees call the police first, and then notify designated district staff. From there, they use a short accident reporting form to ensure critical information is collected and delivered to the risk management team.
"We've had a handful of collisions since rolling out the resources,” said Poehler. “Officers weren't dispatched, but our drivers got all the necessary information, including photos. There were no disputes, and the claims were resolved quickly."
Business as Usual?
Claim resolution doesn’t necessarily mean getting back to business as usual. In cases where drivers could have taken steps to avoid accidents, the district delivers refresher training. “We treat collisions as improvement opportunities. “Recently, we’ve been talking about strategies bus drivers can use to avoid side-swiping cars,” said Poehler.
If your district is looking for budget-friendly risk management solutions like Northwest ISD's, Poehler offers this advice.
"It doesn't have to be complicated or costly, but it does have to meet end users' needs. Sometimes, we miss the mark when we make decisions in a vacuum. It’s important to get employees’ buy-in early and invite them to help develop the solution."
Claim-Reporting in a Pinch
Fund members with Auto coverage can quickly report claims online. The more information you share about collisions, the more efficiently our team can determine liability based on facts. We need these details at minimum:
- Date, time, and location of the collision
- Make, model, year, and VIN of other vehicles involved
- Police report if available
- Injured parties’ names and contact information
- Video surveillance if available
- Photos of accident scene, debris, tire marks, and vehicle damage.
You will have the chance to upload photos if you report claims online. Otherwise, email them to ALPClaimsInBox@tasb.org.
Which Photos Should You Take?
Our claims team needs these photos at minimum:
- VINs of every vehicle involved in the collision. You'll find VINs inside the driver-side door, next to the door latches, near the seatbelt.
- All four corners of each vehicle
- All vehicle damage: Stand back to give a reference point for damage location
About the Excellence Awards Program
The Fund Excellence Award program recognizes members who implement innovative solutions to risk management challenges. Winners receive a plaque, a monetary honorarium, and recognition in Fund and TASB publications.
David Wylie serves as content developer on the risk solutions team. He brings more than 20 years' experience writing educational content that helps employers protect against workplace accidents, property damage, cybercrime, and other losses.