What has four legs…choose the one that moves you forward!

What has Four Legs . . . Choose the One that Moves you Forward!

By Dave Pfeifle, SDPAA Executive Director

An old riddle asks: What has four legs and you can sit on it? The usual responses are a horse or a chair. Some argue they both have a front and back so they are alike. However, one can help you get places while the other is stationary. A few public entities in South Dakota still believe their private insurance coverage has four legs because it provides indemnity for covered claims; therefore it is like the coverage provided to Members of the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA). This misperception needs to be corrected.

Only the SDPAA moves you forward with services and benefits beyond mere coverage. The SDPAA was created when private insurance became unavailable or unaffordable for local governments. Public entity pools were the local governments’ home-grown solution to this problem. Unlike private insurance companies who simply provide coverage then strive to pay any excess via dividends to their mostly out-of-state private shareholders, the SDPAA is Member-owned and Member-driven by its local government Members in South Dakota. All of the SDPAA’s activities benefit its Members and the public they serve in South Dakota.

An argument for choosing a private insurance company is the misperception that a local government must go with a private insurance company to provide business to its local insurance agent. This simply is not the case. In reality, over seventy SDPAA Members annually support their local insurance agents via the SDPAA’s flow-through commission program. Any state-licensed local agent can “write” for the SDPAA and can receive a commission at an amount determined by the local agent and the public entity. In turn, the public entity can enjoy the countless additional benefits and services only the SDPAA can provide.

The difference between a private insurance company and the SDPAA starts at the top. The SDPAA Board of Directors is elected from the SDPAA membership and governs by its collective wisdom gained from three centuries of serving local governments in South Dakota. The Board is keenly aware of the issues facing any local government in South Dakota and relentlessly seeks new coverages and programs for their fellow Members. The SDPAA’s internal team is comprised of dedicated public servants who have over a century of unique experience with both coverage and local government issues. No private insurer can provide this level of expertise and insight for your public entity.

The SDPAA’s experience and insight creates many programs tailored to benefit SDPAA Members. The SDPAA, through its loss control vendor Safety Benefits, Inc. (SBI) provides all Members with on-site loss control surveys every three years and other risk consultations by request. On behalf of the SDPAA, SBI provides property valuation surveys to each Member every four years so property coverage is based on the most accurate valuations and no Member is overpaying due to certain property being overvalued. These property surveys also help identify any necessary additions or subtractions from the list of covered items. No private insurance company offers this level of service.

The SDPAA provides model policies and virtual training on hundreds of topics. Only the SDPAA brings so many in-person training opportunities to Members, including a new program for regular on-site training for the SDPAA Members with local jails and arranging for expert speakers to participate at most local government conferences and workshops. The SDPAA’s comprehensive training opportunities provide the courses necessary for most certifications required for SDPAA Members’ employees. The SDPAA also provides Members with access to Employment and Government Practices and Elections hotlines for a free consultation with a legal expert on any acute risks.

The SDPAA Board understands that risk management takes time and effort. To reward Members for reducing their risks, the SDPAA has implemented several credit programs. These credit programs have led to safer communities in South Dakota and cost savings for local governments.

No private insurer is able to offer your public entity such benefits and services. If you have any questions or would like your public entity to explore becoming a Member of the SDPAA, please contact the SDPAA at 800-658-3633 option 2 or by email at sdpaa@sdmunicipalleague.org.