By Nixon Shigoli
The prolonged disruption of education due to Covid-19 highlighted the risks faced by learning institutions due to unforeseen perils. Most affected were private schools as many of them incurred massive financial losses forcing them to shut down.
The health crisis also revealed how highly vulnerable learning institutions are to sudden shocks that impede their functioning. Ordinarily, education facilities face multiple risks that could easily cripple them financially.
These include fire, lightning, storms, floods, earthquakes as just some of the major natural risks. There is also arson, theft, malicious damage, explosions, terrorism and accidents attributed to human action.
Fortunately, insurance provides financial protection against natural and human calamities that pose a serious risk to both life and property. In particular, school insurance ensures minimal disruption to learning while protecting the financial investment by the school proprietor.
It would take a long time, for example, to rebuild a school completely destroyed by fire or floods not to mention the immense cost to the owner and, of course, parents who would be asked to help shoulder the financial burden.
Many fire tragedies have occurred in our schools thus underlining the importance of insuring against this particular type of risk. With increased incidents of violent student protests in our schools, it is time education providers prioritized insurance.
A local daily newspaper reported that in 2020 alone, parents incurred half a billion shillings as fines for school infrastructure destroyed by rioting students in 100 Kenyan schools.
That points to the magnitude of financial loss associated with such disruptive events. While improving security in school compounds is critical, having insurance backup could help mitigate such massive losses.
In addition to protecting buildings, school insurance also cushions against damage or loss of school property like furniture, laboratory equipment, books, food stocks and other essential items needed for a conducive learning environment.
Some school insurance packages also include a student personal accident policy covering total/permanent disability, emergency treatment and even tuition expenses after accidents.
Personal accident insurance gives the parents and teachers peace of mind in knowing that pupils are covered in the unfortunate event of injuries sustained in the course of normal schooling activities.
As a school owner, you are advised to seek an underwriting partner who covers the specific type of risks that your institution faces, both human and property related. You should also factor in third party legal liability claims.
These are claims by persons who are not students or employees of the school but who are seeking compensation for personal injuries or damage to their property. Some injuries may be fatal thus raising claims by relatives of the deceased.
Public liability insurance is an important component of school underwriting products. The safety of educational institutions is a national concern. Besides ensuring safety of learners and staff, they must protect the assets and property that have cost millions of shillings to put up.
The reputation of the institution is also at stake. Imagine the legal and financial implications of a tragic accident involving several students. Not only will the school be liable for paying legal damages, but parents may also withdraw their children from the school out of concern for their safety.
On top of insuring the physical facilities, school managers should consider medical insurance for students and staff as it is crucial in securing access to quality medical care when necessary. The cover can also be structured to include emergency evacuation to health facilities for treatment in case of accidents or tragedies especially in boarding schools or those located in remote areas.
Nowadays, purchasing school insurance need not be a burdensome process. Like many underwriting products, it can be purchased online using a few simple steps. Claims processing has also been simplified using the latest technology thus enhancing convenience for the insured.
As an underwriter, AAR Insurance works with clients to develop the right package since a one-size-fit-all approach will not work. Different learning institutions face different types of risks hence the need for a deeper understanding of the client’s risk profile.
Apart from protecting against insurable risks, school insurance contributes to creating a sustainable learning environment. By minimizing disruption to learning, it is key to building resilient institutions of learning. It also enables investors in the education sector plan how to sustain their businesses and provide quality and inclusive education.
Insurance is also a secondary enabler of the international Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) specifically the goal on quality education. But it also important that parents invest in life and education insurance to ensure their children remain in school even when the family is facing financial crisis.
Mr. Shigoli is the Managing Director, AAR Insurance