In This Issue


Distracted Driver Awareness Month

Privacy & Network Liability Coverage

Seasonal Employees Require Safety Training

Local Government Risk Academy

Next Step Program

Five Steps for Creating an Effective Sewer Backup and Overflow Prevention Program

Grand Junction’s City Leaders Make a Healthy Impact on its Citizens


Tennessee Trivia

Q. Who was Tennessee’s first governor?

Click here for the answer

Message from the President

Dawn Crawford


Hello to all,

Our board of directors recently met to determine rates, coverage changes and dividends for the upcoming policy year. The following items were approved:

Base rates for the 2019/2020 policy year:

Workers’ Compensation: -2.7%

This change is derived from a majority of classifications receiving a 3% reduction in base rates. A few classifications that have large loss ratios for the most recent 5-year-period will receive a 3% base rate increase. The impact of these changes averages out to an overall -2.7% change.

Liability and Property:

There are no base rate changes in Liability and Property.

Coverage Changes:

We are adding a cyber extension to our current policy as an optional coverage. Included are ransomware, social engineering and data restoration expense. These coverages are offered with a sublimit of $250,000 and will have strict underwriting applied. There will be a separate premium charge for this. Please see the article in this newsletter for more detailed information on this coverage.

Dividends:

We are pleased to announce that the dividend declaration authorized by the board of directors is larger than that of the past few years. After the actuarial study on losses was completed, we ended up with very favorable trends, particularly in Workers’ Compensation. For the 2019-2020 policy year, eligible members will receive a portion of the $6.5 million declared.

The dividends will be allocated as follows:

• Workers’ Compensation

$2,900,000

• Liability

$2,950,000

• Property

$   650,000

Our ability to reduce rates or hold them flat, add additional coverages and declare a larger dividend is a testament to the good job members are doing at containing losses.

Thank you for all of your efforts to mitigate losses — the positive results are evident!

All the best,

Dawn Crawford signature
Dawn R. Crawford
President/CEO

 

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the National Safety Council, more than 40,000 people were killed in the United States while driving last year. Motor vehicle crashes are also the top cause of workplace deaths in the United States.

Distracted driving is a major contributor to motor vehicle accident fatalities.

  • Every 7 seconds, someone is injured in a car crash
  • Every 15 minutes, someone is killed
  • Many of the crashes occur during the work day or the daily commute
  • Employers absorb costs associated with these crashes, whether they occur on or off the job
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of workplace death

Whether at home or work, distracted driving is a hazard to our employees. Raising awareness of this issue and keeping it on people’s minds is key to reducing the number of motor vehicle accidents. The National Safety Council provides a FREE online Safe Driving Kit that you can use to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. To access this free resource, visit http://safety.nsc.org/safe-driving-kit.

The Safe Driving Kit contains:

  • Materials designed to share with employees year-round and reinforce your organization’s policies
  • Videos
  • Fact sheets and FAQs
  • Myth busters
  • Infographics
  • Posters
  • Survivor advocate stories
  • Activities to engage employees
  • Links to safe driving resources
  • Ready-made communications to educate employees

Included in the Safe Driving Kit is a sample Cell Phone Policy to Prevent Distracted Driving. You will also find a sample Cellular & Other Wireless Telephone Policy in Public Entity Partners’ online portal. As with any policy, we encourage you to read these policies carefully and have them reviewed by your legal counsel prior to implementing them.

By working together to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, we can work to reduce accidents and possibly save a life.

    Top 10 Truths About Distracted Driving    
   

Click to Open

   

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Privacy & Network Liability Coverage

Including Ransomware, Social Engineering and Data Restoration Expense Extension

Public Entity Partners has offered Privacy & Network Liability Coverage to members since 2012. This important coverage was originally designed for members who may have failed to protect confidential and private information, and to cover associated notification expenses through the Data Breach Fund.

Cyber criminals have continued to target local governments at an alarming rate. Beginning July 1, 2019, Public Entity Partners will also offer a Ransomware, Social Engineering and Data Restoration Expense extension to the Privacy & Network Liability Coverage. This coverage extension will have a $250,000 sublimit.

In order to be eligible for the Ransomware, Social Engineering and Data Restoration Expense coverage, members will need to demonstrate that they have met underwriting standards laid out in the application. One of the most important requirements of this coverage is having a backup procedure designed to protect your data. Public Entity Partners has always advocated for members to adopt a risk management philosophy, and this must also extend to computer networks, email systems, and how we access the Internet through any of our connected devices.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a dedicated Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Since its creation, the IC3 has received an average of 248,000 complaints EACH YEAR! In 2017, the IC3 received 1,783 complaints that were specifically identified as ransomware.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware that targets both human and technical weaknesses in organizations and individual networks in an effort to deny the availability of critical data and systems. Ransomware is frequently delivered through spear phishing e-mails to end users. When the victim organization determines they are no longer able to access their data, the cyber actor demands the payment of a ransom, at which time the actor will purportedly provide an avenue to the victim to regain access to their data. Recent ransomware attempts to target employees at all levels of an organization, making awareness and training a critical preventative measure.

Even with sound controls in place, ransomware can still affect your organization. Cyber criminals are constantly searching for a way to trick your employees. Having contingency and remediation plans in place are crucial to your entity’s ability to recover from this type of attack.

What are some basic steps you can take to prevent ransomware attacks? The Cyber Division of the FBI recommends the following:

  • Educate your employees! All employees need to understand that they may be a target of a cyber criminal and the common techniques that may be used.
  • Operating systems, software and firmware on devices should be kept up-to-date. As weaknesses are found, companies like Microsoft or Apple provide security patches and updates. If your devices are not kept up-to-date, you are making it easier for criminals to exploit you.
  • Any anti-virus or anti-malware solutions that you may use within your organization should be set to automatically update and scan your computer.
  • Consider which employees need administrative access to their computers. Limiting the ability for an end user to install programs or make changes to programs on their computers is a safeguard designed to prevent malwares from making changes to your entity’s computers. If any users do not need administrative rights to their computers, make sure they have a more restrictive user account.
  • Disable macro scripts from office files transmitted via e-mail. You should also consider using Office Viewer software to open Microsoft Office files via e-mail instead of full office suite applications.
  • Implement Software Restrictive Policies (SRP) or other controls to prevent programs from executing from common ransomware locations, such as temporary folders supporting popular Internet browsers or compression/decompression programs, including the AppData/LocalAppData folder.
  • Does the idea of Internet security make your head spin? Engaging a professional to help you secure your network and protect your computer systems is a great first step. We can no longer bury our heads in the sand and think that a ransomware attack will not happen to us or our entities.

Even with sound prevention techniques in place, you could still be impacted by ransomware or general malware. How will you recover?

  • It is up to you to regularly backup your systems to ensure you can rebuild your data.
  • Make sure your backups are also secure! Malware can impact your backup if it is on the same network. Use of a cloud-based backup system or storing your backup off-site can help protect your backup if you are impacted by a ransomware or malware. Having a backup is the best way to recover your critical data in the event you are impacted, and is an underwriting requirement in order to obtain coverage.

What are some other best practices recommended by the FBI?

  • Implement application whitelisting; only allow systems to execute programs known and permitted by security policy.
  • Execute operating system environments or specific programs in a virtualized environment.
  • Categorize data based on organizational value, and implement physical/logical separation of networks and data for different organizational units.

What should you do if you believe you have been impacted by a ransomware attempt?

  • If you are impacted by a ransomware attempt, you should immediately secure your backups and contact Public Entity Partners to file a claim.
  • In addition, you should contact the local FBI field office and request assistance. The FBI does not support paying a ransom to cyber criminals. Paying a ransom does not guarantee an organization will regain access to their data; in fact, some individuals or organizations were never provided with decryption keys after having paid a ransom.

What is Social Engineering?

Social Engineering is a technique used by cyber criminals to trick you into giving access to your computer or network, and can even include tricking you into transferring money directly into the cyber criminal’s bank account. These bad actors will use commonly available information about you and things you care about in order to trick you into revealing information. These attacks can be very sophisticated and difficult to detect!

Doing a simple Internet search of your name can show you the information to which a cyber criminal may have access. If you post personal information online, including to social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, a cyber criminal can use that information to trick you without having complex programming skills.

Social engineering attacks frequently come in the form of an email from what seems like a legitimate vendor, customer, internal employee, or even an elected official requesting a transfer of money or a change in direct deposit information.

How can you combat social engineering attempts?

A simple yet effective way to combat social engineering is to always confirm changes requested by email in-person or through a direct phone call. You should also seek to protect yourself by keeping social media posts private and limiting the personal information available about you online. Keep in mind that information about elected officials may be harder to limit online. Never assume that a request is valid simply because it includes a personal message.

What should you do if you are a victim of social engineering?

If you are impacted by a social engineering event, you should immediately contact your financial institution to attempt to stop payment or correct any incorrect routing information. You should also file a claim with Public Entity Partners and contact local law enforcement officials.

Public Entity Partners encourages members to review our Sensitive Information and Computer Security Loss Control Guideline. This extensive guideline covers sensitive information that is both printed and electronic. It is available in our online portal or through any of our casualty loss control consultants.

If you would like to find out more about the Privacy & Network Liability coverage and the Cyber Extension, please reach out to the underwriting department.

East Tennessee
Jim Bell Hatchel
jhatchel@PEpartners.org

Middle Tennessee
Anthony Roman
aroman@PEpartners.org

West Tennessee
Janine Helton
jhelton@PEpartners.org

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Seasonal Employees Require Safety Training

It was George’s first day on the job as a seasonal employee in the Parks & Recreation department. The 23-year-old was directed to use a weed trimmer to clear weeds around the sidewalks of the local park. Operating a weed trimmer comes with a high risk of eye injury due to the thick line that spins and throws objects on the ground into the air. Before the end of the day, George hit a large rock, which caused the line to break off and hit him in the eye with great force. George was not provided with proper eye protection or training on how to safely operate a weed trimmer. The injury was very severe and George almost lost his eye.

It’s very common for seasonal employees to use potentially hazardous tools without proper training or safety equipment. Regardless of how long an employee is going to work at your organization, you must provide adequate safety-related training and the proper personal protective equipment.

Seasonal employees work alongside permanent employees and face the same workplace hazards. As an employer, you are required to provide the same level of protection for both sets of employees. Safety should always be a priority and training should be provided. The more your safety culture is reinforced with permanent employees, the more it will be respected by seasonal employees. Make sure supervisors do not contradict safety training that is provided in order to meet deadlines and goals.

It is also important to never assume that new workers will understand how to complete a particular task or know about the safety features of a piece of equipment. Training and evaluation are the only ways an employer can be sure that seasonal employees have the knowledge and skills to do the job safely.

One good way to train and supervise seasonal employees is to pair them with skilled employees who can teach them how to do the job safely and provide feedback on their skill development. Safety procedures and training should be constantly reinforced through supervision, follow-up and consequences.

Employers should evaluate the hazards faced by all employees and provide the proper personal protective equipment needed for the tasks they perform. If an evaluation identifies potential hazards to a worker’s hand that requires employees to wear gloves, then seasonal employees doing the same job must also wear protective gloves.

As we gear up for warmer weather, begin to mow public right-of-ways, and prepare our parks and recreation facilities for increased use, please keep safety in mind.

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Local Government Risk Academy

Public Entity Partners provides members with access to an online training platform called Local Government Risk Academy. Public Entity Partners’ members can assign accounts to employees so that safety training may be completed and documented. This program is provided at NO COST to all Public Entity Partners’ members.

Many of the online courses are written specifically for local governments and governmental agencies. More importantly, many of the training offerings can assist public entities with meeting Tennessee OSHA training requirements. In addition, police officers can receive up to 24 hours of Tennessee POST credit toward their annual training requirements through many of the law enforcement programs offered. One of the best benefits of this online training platform is that it allows employees the flexibility to complete training any time of day from any computer with Internet access.

The Local Government Risk Academy allows you to:

  • Add users and create groups — easily add and organize personnel into groups based on rank, shift or other tailored options
  • Automate reports ― create recurring and on-demand reports to monitor and track training compliance
  • Create training assignments — set start and end dates for each course and automate reminder notifications

The most current course listing can be viewed here.

  Local Government Risk Academy course catalog  

The course catalog (pictured above) for Local Government Risk Academy is easy to navigate for employees and allows them to quickly see what training has been assigned to them. Each entity’s learning administrator can assign specific trainings for employees.

Need to Register?

If you do not have an account already established for yourself or your entity, please click here to request access to the training platform. Requests for training access will be granted once your account has been verified, usually within 24 to 48 hours. John D’Angelo is our dedicated customer success representative and will reach out to connect once your account has been verified. He can be reached at 866-845-8887 or at PublicEntityPartners@localgovu.com.

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At Public Entity Partners, our goal is to encourage a culture of safety within each entity we work with to reduce injuries and accidents. A culture of safety is key to ensuring that each employee goes home each night to his or her family ― free from injury. Despite everyone’s best safety efforts, however, accidents resulting in injuries do occur from time to time. Sometimes those injuries lead to permanent impairment and can be life-changing.

The Next Step Program through the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is designed to connect injured workers who are permanently disabled with job training so they can re-enter the workforce. Eligible applicants may be awarded up to $5,000 per year for use at any public post-secondary institution located in Tennessee. Examples of eligible institutions include Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, community colleges, the University of Memphis, the University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University.

In order to qualify, you must have a compensable workers’ compensation claim that occurred on or after July 1, 2018, have a permanent injury with an impairment rating, and receive a disability award for not returning to work or returning to work at a lower pay. Applications for the Next Step program must be received by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within 90 days of receipt of your final disability payment. To complete the application or learn more about the program, please click here.

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Four Steps for Creating an Effective Sewer Backup and Overflow Prevention Program

If your entity operates a sewer system, you understand the unfortunate reality that, from time to time, you will experience sewer backup events. Do your employees and elected officials know how to respond during these types of events? Do you understand who is responsible for property damage should an event occur? And lastly, do you know what liability coverage is in place to protect from lawsuits or claims against your entity?

There are four key steps to creating an effective backup and overflow prevention program that can help you manage the liability associated with your sewer system.

These steps include:

1. Document complaints about backups

Public Entity Partners’ casualty loss control consultants can work with you as you evaluate the processes you have in place to document complaints and backups within your system.

Documentation should include:

  • The name of the individual making the complaint
  • Location of the backup
  • Date and time you received the complaint
  • Who received the complaint
  • The action you took about the complaint

All inspections, maintenance and repairs on your sewer system should be documented with the dates they were performed, the name(s) of the personnel who completed them, and what the results were.

2. Map out your system

Most sewer systems are mapped. Your system’s map should include numbered manhole covers, all lift or pump stations, and the location of complaints. This will help you track your complaints and identify areas of your system that may need to be fixed.

3. Fix the problem areas

Your ongoing schedule of inspecting, cleaning and preventative maintenance for your system should be in writing. This is documented proof that you are taking care of your system. Focus on problem areas of your system. Plan and schedule cleaning for these areas at least twice a year. An uninspected line that hasn’t been cleaned is typically responsible for backups.

4. Educate employees and the public about their responsibilities during a sewer backup or overflow event

  • Do you know how to respond to a sewer backup? The manner with which your personnel handle your community’s residents who experience the trauma of a backup can influence whether or not your entity is sued. Your personnel should always treat citizens with concern for their problems. Explain what will be done, by whom and when it will occur, and consider suggesting precautions to prevent these types of events in the future.
  • Your employees should never discuss who is at fault for a backup or overflow event. Sometimes employees say things that make residents believe the overflow is your entity’s responsibility or fault. Educate your employees so they understand that responding to a sewer backup or overflow event does not mean accepting responsibility for the damage.
  • Create educational documents, fact sheets or brochures detailing the causes of backups and overflows. Explain that cooking grease, diapers and debris should be kept out of sinks, toilets and drains, and can cause backups and overflows.
  • Residents should be encouraged to have a backflow device and understand they are responsible for maintaining their lateral line.

These four steps for creating an effective program are key to identifying areas of concern within your sewer system and proactively working to fix these issues. A program of this nature will not only reduce the number of backups experienced in your system, it will also demonstrate the duty of care that you exercise, reducing your potential liability for these types of events.

Any local government employee or elected official who may receive a complaint from the public should have a basic understanding of your sewer backup prevention program — and where to direct a complaint so it can be properly documented. Never admit or assume liability until a determination is made by your claims adjuster. If you accept responsibility for a backup before the claims adjuster has investigated, you could put your coverage in jeopardy.

If you have questions as you evaluate your sewer backup and prevention program, please reach out to your casualty loss control consultant.

East Tennessee
Judy Housley
jhousley@PEpartners.org

Middle Tennessee
Chester Darden
cdarden@PEpartners.org

West Tennessee
Paul Chambliss
pchambliss@PEpartners.org

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Grand Junction’s City Leaders Make a Healthy Impact on its Citizens

Located in Fayette and Hardeman counties, the City of Grand Junction is home to only 325 citizens. Because its residents must drive 20 miles to the nearest grocery store, the community has been designated a food desert by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Food deserts are areas located more than 10 miles from a grocery store, and lack access to healthy, affordable foods, such as fresh produce and whole grains. Food deserts can contribute to diets short on essential nutrients and negatively affect long-term health.

Last year, however, city leaders in this economically challenged community demonstrated how Tennessee’s local governments can serve the needs of their citizens when they worked to open a farmers’ market.

“We do not have the ability to have fresh foods close by, other than what is sold at the local Dollar General and Family Dollar,” said Lorie Rice, Grand Junction’s city recorder and certified municipal finance officer. “That only gives you the ability to have processed food and not fresh, healthy foods. Currently 65 percent of Hardeman County is considered obese. We are trying everything we can to make this less of a problem and serve our citizens.”

The city owns a cotton gin facility, which is utilized for storage of town equipment. In the spring of 2018, the city’s leaders began a small farmers’ market with 11 vendors under the facility’s awning to gauge interest in the concept. The concept was a great success ― and not only drew the citizens of Grand Junction to the farmers’ market, but also attracted customers from throughout the surrounding vicinity.

“We partnered with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to create a farmers’ market and agricultural education facility,” Rice said. “We are now converting the inside of the facility into a space that can host an indoor farmers’ market. In addition, we will have a Pick TN Products retail space, where individuals who have small businesses can sell their products. Our agricultural learning facility will allow us to offer master gardening and canning classes, and other agricultural-related education.”

The city estimates that the retail space and agricultural learning facility will create at least 25 job opportunities for the area, and the equivalency of a grocery store due to the fresh produce available at the farmers’ market and the other foods available at the convenience stores. Grand Junction also hopes to eventually bring a community garden to the facility, and continue to find ways to improve the area’s quality of life.

“We hope this will create new and more nutritious choices for the City of Grand Junction and the surrounding areas, and have a positive impact,” Rice said.

While renovations are still currently underway at the facility, the first farmers’ market of the 2019 season is expected to open at the beginning of May, and will be open two days a week.

Grand Junction City Food Desert Grand Junction City Food Desert
Grand Junction City Food Desert Grand Junction City Food Desert

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Tennessee Trivia

Q: Who was Tennessee’s first governor?

A. William Blount was the first governor of the State of Tennessee, serving from 1790 - 1795.