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Auto Losses Drive Premium Increases

The Municipal Association of SC Risk Management Services recently hosted an Auto Safety Road Show to help address a growing frequency of auto losses experienced by the SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund and SC Municipal Insurance Trust.  

The Auto Safety Road Show took place in three locations around the state, helping SCMIRF and SCMIT members understand the impact that auto claims have on premiums, and the importance of preventing them.  

Since 2019, automobile claims have grown each year, and program members are feeling those effects through the increase in premiums. The premium increase in SCMIRF has partly been impacted by increased auto losses as well as property reinsurance costs. If auto losses continue to worsen, an additional increase in funding may be required.    

In early 2023, Risk Management Services loss control staff analyzed claims data to gain a better understanding of departments and loss types driving the frequency and severity of auto losses. The analysis identified these takeaways:  

  • SCMIRF’s top 10 most expensive auto physical damage claims since 2019 have included seven sanitation truck fires, an overturned sanitation truck, a fire engine fire, and an overturned firetruck. Most of these claims could have been prevented with proper maintenance.  

  • About 51% of the auto physical damage and auto liability claims involved law enforcement vehicles. Approximately 70% of the claims involving police vehicles occur during routine driving. In other words, only 30% of payouts result from losses that happen during a vehicle pursuit or while responding to a call for service. Most of the losses were “at-fault” claims and could have been prevented with attentive driving.   

  • Public works was responsible for about 29% of the auto claims from 2019 to 2023. Of those claims, about 68% were determined to be “at-fault” loss types, indicating inattentive or distracted driving.  

The Auto Safety Road Show had the purpose not only of sharing with members the numbers and impact of auto claims, but also informing and educating members on how to prevent auto losses. This surge of auto accidents seen in recent years may be the result of a lack of policies or enforcement of policies, poor practices, and lack of driver safety.  

Loss control staff recommended the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety’s Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes. This guide includes the NETS 10-Step Program to Minimize Crash Risk, which gives municipalities a step-by-step guide to building a useful auto collision prevention system within their city or town. There is no way to eliminate the occurrence of all automobile losses, but having a risk management program in place is a good first step.   

Participants of the Auto Safety Road Show were tasked with considering the following within their entity to identify areas that may need improvement: 

  • How do we compare to other members in SCMIRF? 
  • Do we have an effective vehicle safety policy? 
  • What is our position on distractions while driving? 
  • What does our driver safety training look like?  
  • Do we hold employees or departments accountable when it comes to driving? 
  • Do we have a safety plan for commercial vehicles? 
    • Maintenance plan for cleaning, hoses and hydraulics 
    • Fire extinguishers 
    • Training – driver safety and what to do if a fire occurs in transit 
    • Vehicle placement 

Risk Management Services offers a four-hour “Defensive Driving” course, as well as a one-hour course called “Driver Safety – Preventing Auto Claims.” To schedule a class or for questions or additional information on preventing auto claims contact loss control staff at