The cost of slips, trips and falls

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WIGAN Council spends an average of £3m a year to insure itself against a whole host of claims and damages.

The council currently pays out £1m each year for insurance cover, plus another £2m for excess rates which keeps premiums at an affordable level.

The insurance covers primarily public and employers liability, but also motor, property, professional indemnity, fidelity guarantee, schools balance of risks, and engineering services.

It is arranged by competitive tender, supported via brokering services who provide advice on the most cost effective approach for each class of insurance.

The council currently pays a premium of £567,000 for property damage with Travelers; £41,000 for personal accident and assault with Risk Management Partners (RMP); £155,000 for engineering inspection and insurance and £58,000 for motor cover - both with Zurich Municipal.

As Wigan Council works with brokers to find the best deal, the premium rates are lower than other authorities.

For example, Wigan’s premium per property is £138, compared with the average benchmark of £535; the premium per employee for employer’s liability is £3.60 in Wigan, but £11.50 elsewhere; the average cost per public liability claim is £2,265, whilst the benchmark is £5,334 and a premium per vehicle is £60 in Wigan, and £320 in other authorities.

The council owns 400 properties, which include schools, valued at around £500m, plus a further 22,750 homes, worth almost £2bn, which are managed to Wigan and Leigh Housing on its behalf.

In 2010/11, the team handled 70 claims, valued at around £400,000 in respect of property damage, mostly relating to storm damage in schools.

In the same period, there were 80 employer’s liability claims by council staff, valued at £500,000, averaging £12,800 per complaint.

The majority of issues relate to injuries sustained by employees in the course of their duties. The insurance team investigated 740 public liability claims for compensation against the council, averaging £2,265 each.

These included new cases, as well as unsettled ones from the previous year and mostly related to accidents occurred on the highways.

Schools made 125 claims in respect of theft, vandalism, loss and accidental damage, costing around £100,000.

Martyn Kenyon, lead officer for audit and risk management at Wigan Council, said: “The insurance team is active in its preventative role, which helps to reduce the numbers of situations where problems and insurable risks arise.

“The costs of the team are significantly reduced by the income generated by providing services for other bodies, and many times less than the premium savings achieved each year (compared to benchmarked averages for similar organisations), with further value added through successful defences and repudiations along with lower numbers of claims and associated costs.”