Texas Municipalities Insurance Policy Information
Texas Municipalities Insurance. In the public sector, exposures to risks and losses aren't anything new. In fact, public officials face numerous liabilities on a daily basis. Given the fact that city officials are tasked with so many responsibilities, such as balancing budgets, managing debts, ensuring that the residents in their jurisdictions are safe and have access to proper protection and education, infrastructure is functioning properly, and more.
Given all of the responsibilities that municipalities are tasked with, it's no wonder why officials are exposed to so many risks.
Municipal buildings provide office and meeting facilities for township, city, county, or state legislative operations. They often have auditoriums designed for large public gatherings or for political assemblies. A council runs municipalities, either elected or appointed and may have a mayor who acts as the leader.
Wide varieties of services are provided to residents in exchange for tax dollars. These services may include planning and zoning, licenses and permits, assessors' and surveyors' offices, courts, disease control, sanitation, road construction and maintenance, snow removal, and public protection such as police or fire departments.
Some municipalities contract utility services, such as gas, water, or electricity, for residents within their geographical area.
In order for municipalities to protect themselves from the numerous risks that they face, investing in the right type of Texas municipalities insurance is essential. What type of insurance should municipalities carry and why is insurance coverage so important? Read on to find out more.
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Why Do Municipalities Need Insurance?
In the event that a city official makes an error or a poor decision that ends up damaging the constituents that represent, officials, as well as the city, are responsible for any associated damages.
For example, if a budget is mismanaged and funds aren't allocated to the departments they are supposed to be allocated to and aren't used for what they are intended to be use for and constituents file a lawsuit against the city, serious financial repercussions could arise.
That's just one example of the issues that municipalities and city officials face and why Texas municipalities insurance coverage is so important. In the event that an unforeseen circumstance, an error, or even an intended action that does not benefit the municipality occurs, insurance would help to cover the related costs that are associated with damages, repairs, medical bills, and legal defense fees.
Without the right TX municipalities insurance coverage, the municipality would have to pay for the related expenses themselves. With municipal insurance, however, if and when an issue does arise, the insurance carrier would cover the associated costs.
What Type Of Insurance Do Municipalities Need?
The type of Texas municipalities insurance coverage that municipal operations require varies and depends on a variety of factors.
With that said, however, there are several types of coverage that all TX municipalities should carry. These municipal coverages include:
- General Liability: This type of coverage protects municipalities from third-party liability and property damage claims that may occur on properties that are controlled under a municipality. For example, if someone were to trip and fall on an improperly maintained sidewalk or if a vehicle were to be damaged on a pothole that has existed for a long time and the injured individual or the person who owns the damaged vehicle filed a lawsuit against the municipality, this part of an insurance policy would cover the expenses that are associated with legal defense fees, as well as any settlements that a court may be find the municipality responsible for.
- Crime Insurance: An important part of protecting the constituents of a municipality is crime prevention. Officials must take the necessary precautions to protect their cities from potential crime as much as possible. If a city fails to do so, however - for example, if there rioting and looting were to occur and business did nothing to prevent or quell the illegal, destructive, and harmful actions, business owners or anyone who else that was affected by the rioting and looting could file a lawsuit against the city. This part of a municipality insurance policy would help to cover any of the related costs in this type of situation.
- Employment Practices Liability (EPLI): Generally, this type of coverage offers municipalities with the protection they need against claims that may be made by employees for unfair employment practices; age, race, or gender discrimination, wrongful termination, unfair discipline, retaliation, or nepotism that leads for unfair hiring practices, for example. If someone were to file a lawsuit against the city for these negative employment practices, this part of an insurance policy would help to pay for the related expenses.
These policies are a few examples of the type of Texas municipalities insurance coverage you should consider for your municipal operations. To find out more about the coverages that a properly designed TX municipality insurance policy should offer, speak with an insurance broker.
TX Municipalities' Risks & Exposures
Premises liability exposure is high due to services provided to residents and the public's access to the building. If tours are given, exposures increase significantly as guests may be led through areas generally "off limits" to more casual visitors.
Legislation and judicial decisions have eroded governmental immunity protection in most states. Public and life safety code compliance is very important. To prevent trips, slips, and falls, all premises must be well maintained with flooring in good condition. Adequate lighting, marked exits, and egress are mandatory. Steps must have handrails, be well lit, marked, and in good repair.
An outside service contractor should inspect elevators and escalators annually. Parking lots should be free of ice and snow. Municipal facilities may be a target for vandals, disgruntled citizens, criminals, or terrorists. Security inside the facility, as well as outside areas including owned parking area, needs to be carefully implemented and monitored.
An evacuation plan must be in place. Personal injury losses may occur due to alleged assault, discrimination, invasion of privacy, or unlawful detention.
Public officials' liability exposure can be severe. Today's political climate has seen an increase in lawsuits against public officials for failure to perform the functions of their office, failure to account for tax funds, failure to enforce regulations, failure to follow mandated procedures, such as open bidding on contracts, bad faith, and other errors or omissions. Defense costs can be prohibitively expensive.
Workers compensation exposures are varied, from office workers to volunteers, janitorial staff, building or yard maintenance workers, repair personnel, and drivers. Workers may incur back injuries, hernias, slips, falls, strains, or sprains. Skin and lung irritation can result from working with cleaning chemicals and paint.
Office workers may develop repetitive motion injuries. Workstations should be ergonomically designed. There may be interactions with angry constituents or protestors. Employees should be trained to deal with difficult situations.
Property exposure is generally low. Ignition sources include electrical wiring, heating, and air conditioning systems. There may be a restaurant or cafeteria on premises. Most offices and auditoriums have extensive wiring for lighting, computers, and other electronic equipment. It must be in good repair and adequate for its use.
Valuation may be a concern in older buildings with unique architectural features that may be difficult to rebuild with like construction and quality after a loss. Smoke detectors are critical for early detection of a fire. Smoking should be prohibited.
If there is a restaurant or cafeteria on premises, all cooking equipment should be properly protected. Garages for storing, fueling, and maintaining vehicles must be separated from office facilities. Municipal facilities may be a target for political activists or for terrorists.
Adequate security is required. There should be disaster recovery plans in place to continue operations in the event of a large loss.
Crime exposure is from public officials' dishonesty, employee dishonesty, and money and securities. Background checks, including criminal history, must be completed on all employees. Receipts must be provided for all payments of taxes, fees, fines, and penalties, with daily reconciliation between receipts and money received.
Deposits should be made promptly with appropriate security provided. Money should not be left on premises overnight. There must be regular audits, preferably by an outside firm. All employees must take at least one complete week vacation every year.
If the facilities have offices to collect fees, penalties, or obtain permits and licenses, there may be an exposure to hold up.
Inland marine exposures are from accounts receivable for billings, audio/visual equipment, computers, contractors' equipment, fine arts, and valuable papers and records. Contractors' equipment may be used off-premises to build, maintain, or service municipal streets and roads.
If any owned equipment is used or taken off-premises, the exposure increases. Fine arts such as statuary and paintings, artifacts, historical documents, rare or historical books, or manuscripts may be one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable.
If insured, valuation should be done by a qualified appraiser. Valuable papers and records are often delicate and must be protected from fire, water damage, vandalism, theft, or other losses. Duplicates of all files should be stored at an off-site facility for easy retrieval in the event of a loss.
Business auto exposure can be high if vehicles are used to transport public officials, guests, and visitors. All drivers must have appropriate licenses and acceptable MVRs. All vehicles must be maintained on a regular basis with records kept in a central location.
During inclement weather, drivers may be on the road for extended hours in adverse conditions. Supervision is necessary so drivers can be rotated and not become overly fatigued.
There may be a high non-owned auto exposure if employees use their own vehicles to run errands or attend meetings on municipal business. Employees should carry personal automobile insurance with adequate liability limits.
Texas Municipalities Insurance - The Bottom Line
To learn more about the specific types of Texas municipalities insurance policies you'll need and how much coverage your municipal buildings and operations need - speak with an experienced insurance broker who understands the unique risks that municipalities face.
Texas Economic Outlook & Requirements For Commercial Insurance
If you are considering opening up a business in the Lone Star State, you first want to make sure that it is a sound location for your operations. That means that you should understand some key information related to the state's economy, as well as the types of insurance coverages that businesses are legally required to carry.
Economic Outlook For The State Of Texas
In terms of the economy, Texas offers fantastic news for those who are thinking about starting up a business in this state. That's because the Lone Star State has the second largest economy of all 50 states in the nation. The gross state product is valued at an estimated at over $1.706 trillion in 2022. In 2015, the state was the headquarters for six of the top 50 Fortune 500 companies.
As expected, several industries contribute to the economy of Texas. One of the most notable industries is agriculture. In fact, this state has the highest production of cattle, sheep, and goat products. It is also the largest producer of cotton and cereal crops. Other crops that this state is famed for include cantaloupes, watermelons, and grapefruits.
Other leading industries in the State of Texas include:
- Computer Technology
If you are considering going into business in TX, having an operation in any of these industries will likely afford you success.
Commercial Insurance Regulations For Business Owners In TX
The Texas Department of Insurance regulates is the main insurance regulatory agency in the Lone Star State. Texas is quite lenient when it comes to insurance requirements for business owners. In fact, there is only one type of insurance that business owners are legally required to carry, and that is commercial auto insurance. If you are planning on using a vehicle for anything related to your business, whether it's making deliveries, transporting goods, or meeting with clients, you must have a commercial auto insurance policy.
While Workers' Compensation coverage is required in every other state, in TX, is it not mandated; however, if you decide not to carry this type of coverage, you will be required to offer your employees some type of incentive package in the event that the do become injured or develop a work-related illness.
Additional Resources For Local, State And Federal Government Insurance
Learn about commercial insurance for local, state and federal government agencies, services, operations and buildings.
- County Administration Offices
- Fire Departments
- Government Buildings
- Law Enforcement Entities
- Public Buildings
Cooperative efforts between insurance professionals and public officials have led to the satisfactory arrangement of coverages for public properties that may include large building schedules spread over a number of locations and geographic areas.
Liability insurance protection is a matter of much greater concern. As governmental and charitable institutional immunity continues to erode, the onslaught of lawsuits makes adequate liability protection essential.
Public utilities have unique insurance needs usually best handled by specialists in their field.
Because government entities are becoming more inventive in raising money, they are involved in activities that may not appear to be government-related so that they may require coverages that at first glance do not seem appropriate for them.
Minimum recommended small business insurance coverage: Building, Business Personal Property, Employee Dishonesty, Money and Securities, Accounts Receivable, Audio/Visual Equipment, Computers, Contractors' Equipment, Fine Arts, Valuable Papers and Records, General Liability, Cyberliability, Employee Benefits, Public Officials' Liability, Umbrella, Hired and Non-Oowned Auto & Workers Compensation.
Other commercial insurance policies to consider: Earthquake, Equipment Breakdown, Extra Expense, Flood, Computer Fraud, Forgery, Employment-related Practices, Business Auto Liability and Physical Damage and; Stop Gap Liability.
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