Workplace Assault Insurance Marketed to School Personnel
The Horace Mann Life Insurance Co. has gone national with a product whose time, it maintains, has come: assault insurance for educators.
As of July, the company had sold more than 200 such policies, most of them to school security workers in Illinois, where the company is based.
The insurance may be the first of its kind available to teachers and other school personnel. Neither the 2.3 million-member National Education Association nor the 980,000-member American Federation of Teachers offers such insurance.
But medical-insurance policies held by union members should cover on-the-job injury, said Stan Lumb, a product manager with the NEA's member-insurance trust. A policy such as that being offered by Horace Mann could be worthwhile if the price is right, Mr. Lumb said, but he added that the assault policy is new and that the NEA has not had a chance to analyze it.
For $4 a month, school employees can buy a policy that provides $20,000 for accidental death or dismemberment, up to $500 a day for hospital stays of no more than 180 days, and $1,000 for "victim assistance." The plan applies to school personnel who are injured during workplace violence; for an employee to receive benefits, the assault must have occurred on school grounds and the victim must file a police report.
John Hoffmann, a spokesman for the Springfield, Ill.-based company that has been insuring educators for half a century, said the assault policy is not meant to replace teachers' existing insurance, but rather to supplement it.
The policy, he said, was started because of the growing number of reports of teachers being injured at schools and requests from school personnel.
"This is not a knee-jerk reaction to some major tragedy," Mr. Hoffmann said.
Robert Turner, the principal of the Lorenzo Smith School in Hopkins Park, Ill., said he purchased the insurance "for his own protection."
The school, about 60 miles from Chicago, serves 500 students in grades 3-8 and has had "minor situations" of violence involving teachers, he said. "You never know what can happen, and we do have a number of students coming from Chicago," Mr. Turner said.
In a 1994 survey on school violence and workplace safety, the Illinois Federation of Teachers found that almost 40 percent of the more than 4,400 members surveyed had been victims of violence. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they would consider transferring, 21 percent said they would quit, and 29 percent said they would leave teaching altogether if the situation did not improve.
There were about 11,000 attacks on school grounds nationwide that involved weapons in the 1996-97 school year and more than 190,000 attacks without weapons in the same period, according to a report on violence and discipline in schools issued by the U.S. Department of Education in March.
Horace Mann Insurance began offering the "assault recovery plan" about a year ago on a limited basis. In July, the company began offering it nationwide.
Vol. 18, Issue 3, Page 5