SET SEG Supports New Talent in the Insurance Industry

As an employer in the insurance industry, SET SEG believes that supporting students’ education is the key to building a successful future for the insurance industry by curating a strong talent pipeline. AmTrust Financial reports that the industry employment trends suggest a potential insurance talent crisis as retirement approaches for older workers with no one to replace them.

To address this issue, the SET SEG Insurance and Risk Management Scholarship was created. In honor of Alan Fergin, a valued SET SEG team member for nearly 40 years, this scholarship was designed to provide assistance and resources for students pursuing higher education in principles of insurance, risk management, and mitigation practices.

“At SET SEG we understand the importance and value of supporting and fostering new talent,” said Tim Averill, Executive Director of SET SEG. “We are passionate about investing in the future of the insurance industry and equipping young professionals with resources to further their education.”

The Insurance and Risk Management Scholarship awards qualifying students pursuing careers in the industry $1,000 to those attending community college and $2,500 to those attending a four-year university per academic year. The scholarship can be renewed for up to a total of four academic years to be used for insurance-related program educational costs such as tuition, books, and other class materials.

Renewal Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to our three 2023 Insurance and Risk Management Scholarship renewal winners! Previous scholarship winners who are continuing higher education in insurance and risk management are eligible to renew their scholarships for another academic year.

  • Neveah Reasoner of Mason, Michigan has renewed her scholarship for her second year of education at Ferris State University.
  • Miguel Solis of Lansing, Michigan renewed his scholarship for his second year at Michigan State University.
  • Carter Cappon of Hastings, Michigan has renewed his scholarship for his fourth year at Olivet College.

Five Michigan Students Receive 2023 Insurance and Risk Management Scholarship

Asia St. John graduated from Leslie Public Schools and the Wilson Talent Center in Mason, Michigan. As a first-generation college student, she is excited about the opportunities the insurance industry brings and plans to learn multiple roles in the field. St. John is receiving $2,500 to use toward further education in insurance and risk management.

Chasity Johnson, a mother of five, has returned to school to pursue a more fulfilling career path in the insurance industry, following her passion to help others. “I also hope this inspires my kids to always go after their dream no matter what age they are,” she shared. Johnson is receiving $1,000 toward her education at Lansing Community College.

Ramon Lopez is a high school senior at Lansing Public Schools whose interest in the field was piqued through an insurance basics class. He looks forward to bringing his strong work ethic and passion to learn into the insurance industry. Lopez is receiving $1,000 toward her education at Lansing Community College.

Fowler native Macy Gibbons discovered insurance through classes at Eaton RESA in high school, sparking her desire to pursue insurance and risk management as well as claims investigation in college. “I enjoy insurance because it is an important industry that will never fade, and I love being able to provide support to other people during hard times.” Gibbons is receiving $2,500 to use toward further education in insurance and risk management.

Isabella Seger-Wagasy comes from a family of insurance agents who has inspired her to pursue education in the field with the hope of one day taking over the family business. She plans to study abroad in Europe to learn from a variety of international insurance companies and hopes to guide young professionals in the future through involvement in young insurance agent groups. Seger-Wagasy will receive $2,500 to use toward further education in insurance and risk management.

Know Your School’s Roof – It Matters

What type of roof system does your school district have? When do your roof warranties expire? When was the last time someone walked on and inspected your school’s roof?

If you don’t have the answers to the questions above, then let us help you.

For Michigan public schools, the weather can wreak havoc on facilities. Whether you’re located in the Upper Peninsula experiencing heavy amounts of snow and ice, or near the lakeshore getting wind and hail, threats to a school’s roof are frequent and can result in costly claims.

But with limited personnel and high turnover, SET SEG understands the challenges many of our members are facing when prioritizing a comprehensive maintenance program.

Marquette-Alger RESA: A District’s Perspective

Chief Financial Officer at Marquette-Alger RESA, Anthony Bertucci, has more than 15 years of experience working in public school facilities. After recently completing a roof replacement at his district, Bertucci shares his perspective on the challenges and solutions that come with roof maintenance at a Michigan public school.

Q: For a school district, what are the challenges that you’ve encountered regarding roof maintenance?
A:
Most often the biggest challenge is personnel, feeling like you don’t have the staff and the capacity to maintain all facilities in the district. But roof maintenance is critical – you have to make the time.

Q: What are some of the processes you and your facility team have put in place?
A:
You have to get up there regularly and walk the roof. We’ve established a schedule, clearing drains at least twice a year and checking all roofs after high winds or any other major weather event. Regular walkthroughs are the best way to identify issues before they become a major problem.

Q: For school employees who don’t have experience maintaining roofs, where do you recommend they start?
A:
Make the time to do the preventive maintenance walkthrough – and pay attention to those roof drains. Understand the building structure and figure out what type of roof you have. You need to get someone with decision-making authority up on the roof to understand the conditions, then lean on SET SEG’s resources if you need additional support.

“We’re very fortunate as a school district to partner with an organization like SET SEG, which really has the best interests of its policyholders in mind. I really appreciate their proactive approach, with all the resources and trainings they provide.” – Anthony Bertucci, Chief Financial Officer at Marquette-Alger RESA

Make Roof Inspections a Priority – Contact SET SEG

SET SEG Loss Control Representative Skip Barclay is a HAAG-certified commercial roof inspector, performing building hazard assessments and reviewing claims for members across the state. After touring the Upper Peninsula’s school roofs with additional plans to explore the rest of the state, Barclay has seen it all.

Q: What is it about roofs that pose such a challenge?
A:
Roof systems can be complex, and if you don’t have a record of the type of roof system you have, when the warranties are up, and an inspection and maintenance checklist, then it’s a real challenge for school staff to maintain safe and secure roofs.

Q: How does a school district get started in understanding its roof system and what it takes to maintain it?
A:
Have an inspection schedule, review manufacturer/contractor’s information warranties, familiarize staff with how the roof is constructed, and be able to identify defects. Potential problems aren’t always noticeable, knowledge of your roof system enhances the chances of finding and preventing potential problems.

  • Are your drains blocked?
  • Do you have pools of standing water?
  • Are there any sections of the roof membrane loose or flapping in the wind?

If you find any of these issues, repairs may fall under existing warranties. If not, call your SET SEG Loss Control Representative immediately before greater damages occur.

Q: Why call SET SEG?
A:
We’re here to help and this is what I do. As a member of the Property/Casualty Pool, we can help you identify and develop a strategy to address your biggest roof challenges. We can help you establish a maintenance schedule that fits your facility’s staff and their capacity. We are committed to providing the resources and support a district needs to prevent these major claims from occurring.

“Due to the longevity of roof warranties and high turnover in school districts, there needs to be a process and schedule established to maintain your roofs. I encourage districts to get up on the roof, document what they’re maintaining and the types of roofs they have.” – Skip Barclay, SET SEG Loss Control Representative

Start Here to Access SET SEG’s Roof Resources

  • Request a Roof Inspection
    Fill out this form to request a visit from SET SEG’s certified roof inspector, Skip Barclay, to inspect roofs and provide guidance on the next steps.
  • [PDF] Roof Inspection Form
    Download your own roof inspection form and start documenting your maintenance record.
  • [PDF] Snow Removal Tips
    Click to access tips on developing a snow removal plan for your district.

Michigan Weather vs. Public Schools

For most public school districts in Michigan, harsh winter weather has already descended. Last month saw record-breaking amounts of snow in parts of the state.

Even with our most recent blizzard behind us, we could still be battling lake-effect snow, icy terrain, and freezing temperatures well before winter’s end. With the month of January accounting for the most claims reported due to slips, trips, and falls, our members are facing one of the most challenging times of the year for their facilities.

Now is the time when all the precautions and property preparation our public schools have done are put to the test. To ensure your winter weather safety checklist hasn’t failed you, remain diligent and check your buildings often throughout the winter season.

Here are 3 major risks to defend against in a Michigan winter:

Frozen Pipes
image of icicles hanging off of pipes

Freezing presents the greatest risk for pipes located in areas where temperatures are lower than they are in other parts of buildings. Check pipes that run through attics and crawl spaces, as well as areas above ceilings, and remove tiles where applicable to allow heat to reach them. Be sure to check pipes below false floors and areas that are unoccupied and/or heavily insulated, as well.

Keeping unoccupied interior spaces above freezing will help prevent frozen pipes – don’t set the thermostat lower than normal. Be sure to shut off and drain any water systems located in areas subject to freezing.

Keep in mind, there are three main causes for frozen pipes: quick drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats set too low.

Leaky or Snow-Covered Roofs
image of a hole in a school roof due to heavy snow and ice

Ensure you know what type of roofs you have on the buildings, who installed it, the manufacturer, and if you have a service agreement already in place. With this information, you can ensure any repairs fall under existing warranties and when replacements should be scheduled.

The best way to safely inspect a roof is by an internal fixed ladder with a coworker present. If this isn’t possible, install fixed ladders to the exterior of your buildings that have a lockable feature to ensure only school personnel can access it.

Inspect your roofs at least twice a year.

Slips, Trips, and Falls
image of a person's feet in boots walking on an icy sidewalk

Slips, trips, and falls are the number one loss source in the state. To prevent these losses, housekeeping is key. It may seem simple but keeping your boiler rooms, classrooms, and hallways clear of clutter while ensuring the rugs in the hallways and entryways are maintained, can prevent slips and trips.

With bus lots, take the extra step to shovel and salt around the buses first thing in the morning, prior to the drivers showing up to do their morning inspections. Steps on buses can be slick, so always use the Three Points of Contact method – two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on a surface at the same time.

And finally, never stand on tables and chairs to hang decorations or art. Always use a stepladder to hang or reach high shelves.

Learn more!

To hear straight from our Loss Control Team on these three topics and more, check out our EduSeries webinar, Hidden Dangers: Loss Control Considerations.

When a Gym Floor Looks Like an Ocean Wave

When water encounters a gym floor and isn’t immediately removed and inspected, disaster looms. If not caught immediately and dried, water can severely damage a gym floor almost immediately.

In our over 35 years of experience, our Property/Casualty claims team has witnessed gym floors so buckled and bent, the district had no choice but to shut the gym down and replace the whole floor – leading to months of contract and claims negotiations, athletic and sports event repercussions, and unique classroom coordination challenges.

What happens when a gym floor gets wet?

  • Buckled and bent floorboards
  • Relocated gym classes
  • Canceled practices and games
  • Approximately $90,000-$190,000 in damages
When Disaster Strikes, Who Do You Call?

Chad Zeismer, SET SEG’s Property Claims Consultant, has seen it all, walking school district administrators through some of the worst property claims seen in the state.

Q: As the SET SEG Property Claims Consultant, what is your role when a district calls with a potential problem?
A:
First and foremost, I work with the Loss Control team to determine what potential claims are likely and what can be done to prevent them. If there is a reported loss, I will first identify what caused it and if it’s considered a covered loss. I work with the vendors and contractors to negotiate costs, ensuring no one is taking advantage of the district or the claim. Even if the loss isn’t covered, we still work closely with the district to ensure they’re receiving fair pricing to repair any damages.

Q: Why are gym floors such a problem?
A:
Gym floors are one of the most expensive items in a school and often the main focus for a community. Because they’re susceptible to any water intrusion, if any amount of water is found on a gym floor, then cleaned up and forgotten about, real problems can start to emerge as short as a few days later. If water has been left on a gym floor, it may be too far gone to salvage. It’s important for school employees to take any amount of water on the gym floor seriously.

These types of claims often happen over the holiday break, causing a district to lose the second half of their basketball season, wrestling meets, and cheer competitions – disrupting all kinds of athletic programs. To prevent this, call your flooring contractor, mitigation contractor, and SET SEG if you notice water on the gym floor. We will make sure the contractors work together to save the floor from damage.

Q: Why call SET SEG?
A:
We’re here to help. As a member of the Property/Casualty Pool, you’re not alone. We are dedicated to providing members with the tools and resources to prevent claims before they occur. However, when disaster strikes, we provide the support and claims assistance to help districts navigate a difficult time.

“We’re not an insurance carrier – we’re a Pool. We value our partnerships with public schools and it’s important to us that we assist our districts in saving money and resolving claims in a timely manner.” – Chad Zeismer, SET SEG Property Claims Consultant

Ionia Public School District: A Disaster Avoided

Even when administrators and facilities staff are doing their due diligence to ensure school district buildings and property are safe and functioning at an optimal level, incidents can still occur.

In April 2022, the facilities team at Ionia Public School District discovered water on the gym floor due to a leak in the roof. Immediately, Facilities and Grounds Director Mike Avery, along with Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Andy Barr, took action, calling in mitigation contractors, a flooring contractor, and the school’s SET SEG Loss Control Representative. While the roof leak was addressed, the gym floor was evaluated, dried, and sections of flooring replaced.

“SET SEG really kept things moving,” Avery stated. “So much so that we never missed a day of class in that gym – there was no disruption to the school’s business despite having to fix the floor.”

As a long-time member of the Property/Casualty Pool, Ionia Public School District’s facilities crew has developed a partnership with the SET SEG Loss Control Team in an effort to improve safety and security measures throughout the district and manage any potential issues.

“I’ve been in this role for 20 years and SET SEG has stepped up to the plate anytime we’ve needed assistance when it comes to our facilities,” said Avery. “What’s amazing is how fast they reach out to us after we file a claim. The response time, along with the expertise and suggestions we receive through routine safety walkthroughs is invaluable.”

Take Immediate Action

All it takes is a few days for a gym floor to start bubbling up or buckling if exposed to water. If there are any signs of water collecting on your district’s gym floor, contact SET SEG immediately.

SET SEG: Not Your Typical Insurance Company

For most insurance companies, success is defined by profit and financial benchmarks. But for SET SEG, that’s not the case — we’re not an insurance company. Our members join a pool and fund as opposed to going with a traditional insurance carrier, meaning member districts are our shareholders and have a voice in our strategic direction. The success of the Pool and Fund allows members to receive net asset returns and premium reductions.

Insuring public schools is a risky endeavor, and in Michigan, where the summers are short and the winters are freezing, providing affordable and quality coverage on everything from property/casualty and workers’ compensation to employee benefits, can be a challenge.

As our schools face these challenges, we like to remind them one thing: they’re not alone.

From our corporate programs and workplace culture to our philanthropic efforts through the SET SEG Foundation, giving back to our schools and communities has become a part of the SET SEG approach, always connecting back to our core value to put schools first.

12 Ways SET SEG Gives Back

12. Property/Casualty Return Checks

Every year, districts that are members of the MASB/SEG Property/Casualty Pool receive a net asset return check for funds not utilized in covering claims the previous year. As members of the Pool, school districts share the risk but benefit when claims are reduced and prevented.

11. Workers’ Compensation: Funding Safety Initiatives

Every spring, the SEG Self-Insurer Workers’ Compensation Fund sends a check to each member of the Fund so those districts can purchase products that will help decrease common injuries that occur inside the classroom, with the ultimate goal of reducing injuries and claims across the state.

10. Free Subscription to MyCyber

It’s not enough to provide funds for the property and buildings our students and educators populate, protecting districts from cyber threats is also a top priority. Through a partnership with Tetra Defense, a leading cybersecurity firm, SET SEG provides a valuable tool for members to scan their systems allowing schools to shore up their cyber defenses, keeping their school community safe from damaging cyber incidents.

SET SEG is providing all members with a free subscription to MyCyber, a platform used to conduct cyber hygiene projects ensuring schools are following cyber security best practices and have all the tools they need to remain secure. Click to learn more.

9. Adopt a Family

As an organization, participating in Adopt-a-Family prior to the holidays is a great way to engage our employees and give back to the community at the same time. Each year, SET SEG pledges to assist one or two families who may be struggling to provide gifts for their children.

This season, our staff is purchasing and donating enough gifts to cover a family of five.

8. Employee Food Drive

For two weeks this November, our staff brought in food donations to the office for a food drive benefitting the SIREN/Eaton Shelter in Charlotte, Michigan, a community resource dedicated to providing advocacy and support services to the homeless population and domestic violence survivors.

7. Paid Volunteer Time

While giving back is top of mind during the holiday season, SET SEG has put in place policies that encourage philanthropy all year round, specifically through paid volunteer time and donating to our Foundation with payroll contributions. Employees are given eight hours of paid time off from work to volunteer for a cause, event, organization, etc. of their choice.

In addition to giving their time, many SET SEG employees take advantage of our payroll contribution option to donate an amount per day period to the SET SEG Foundation, directly donating to grant and scholarship programs benefiting our public schools.

6. Send a Candy Cane

In December, as a fundraiser for the SET SEG Foundation, the philanthropic arm of our organization, staff can pay $1 to send a coworker a festive treat with a message to share their appreciation during the holiday season.

5. Award 10 Schools $2,500

The SET SEG Foundation is once again partnering with the Michigan Association of School Boards to honor Michigan public school programs with Education Excellence Awards. Ten educational programs within Michigan public schools and/or ISDs will be awarded the grant to continue their positive influence on their students and community.

Winners receive $2,500, a commemorative trophy, and a street sign announcing the districts as an Education Excellence winner. Apply here: setseg.org/edex

4. Send 65 Students to Summer Leadership Camp

The Michigan Association of Student Councils and Honor Societies (MASC/MAHS) Summer Leadership Camp provides an opportunity for students to experience lessons in leadership, communications, group activities, and goal setting. Through this competitive process, students in grades nine through 12 receive scholarships to attend camp.

Every year, SET SEG receives hundreds of applications from all throughout Michigan and awards $26,000 in full scholarships. Click to learn more.

3. Provide 20 Students Scholarships for the Skilled Trades

The SET SEG Foundation believes in supporting Michigan public school students in the pursuit of enrichment opportunities that advance learning and create opportunities. With the shortage of skilled trade workers in Michigan, we want to help revitalize these career paths and support students in their professional pursuits by giving 20 scholarships each in the amount of $500. Click to learn more.

2. Award 3 School Districts in the Student Showcase

Each year MASC/MAHS invite students across the state to develop a student showcase presentation that shares the very best in programming currently being executed at their school. Presentations are held at regional events throughout the state and can be selected to present at the state conference in February. The top presentations are voted on by attending schools for a chance to present to more than 2,000 student leaders from across the State of Michigan. Students attending the state conference will vote for the top three winners.

The SET SEG Foundation awards the top three winning school districts $1,000.

#GivingTuesday: SET SEG Foundation

Throughout our #12WaysOfGiving series we’ve covered all the ways SET SEG gives back to Michigan’s schools and communities, even highlighting our generous staff for all they give throughout the year in addition to their hard work serving our members every day.

Now it’s your turn.

If you would like to contribute to any of the SET SEG Foundation’s programs benefitting Michigan public school educators and students, please donate today: setseg.org/donate.

Transportation Safety

Groundbreaking Transportation Safety at West Shore ESD

Transportation Safety

For school districts and SET SEG, student safety is always top of mind. There are, of course, many factors that play into that safety. Concerns such as facility security and structural maintenance certainly play a role in keeping students safe; however, one of the largest factors contributing to the safety of our students comes from the preparedness of the often-unsung heroes from any school district: bus drivers.

Katrina Morris, Transportation Director for West Shore ESD and Executive Director of the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT) has always recognized this fact. “We have the most safety-sensitive position in our whole entire district,” explains Morris. “Our drivers are the first and last people to see those kids every single day.”

Morris, a former bus driver herself, has spent her career advocating for bus drivers in her district and beyond, recognizing the importance of those roles within every school district. At West Shore ESD, she and her staff worked to develop training and requirements that provide bus drivers with all of the tools necessary to keep students secure. At MAPT, she was able to extend that training to the rest of Michigan public schools, and ultimately, helped to pass legislation mandating it.

Proactive Bus Driver Training

After meeting with the Mason County school safety team, Morris recognized that, while broad safety training and procedures were in place, there was nothing specifically tailored to the unique challenges of transportation departments. Morris and her team subsequently developed courses specific to bus drivers, requiring supervisors and bus drivers to participate in proactive training that helps them identify potential safety issues and act before problems arise. This specialized training addresses, among other things, intruders, and other unauthorized individuals, attempting to board a school bus; a surprisingly common, and dangerous, occurrence.

After successfully enacting these requirements at West Shore ESD, Morris realized that the same issue she encountered in Mason County (limited bus driver-specific safety training) was likely affecting schools across the state.

Leveraging her experience at West Shore ESD, and her position at MAPT, she approached Michigan lawmakers for the funding needed to expand this valuable training to the rest of the state, ultimately securing $810,000 to incorporate proactive training to the curriculum already in place.

Now, part of the mandated training bus drivers and supervisors undergo includes guidance that gives them tools for recognizing and preventing potential threats to their and students’ safety. According to Morris, the training empowers bus drivers to act: “They have more options – when they see something happening, or they’re questioning something, they know that they have a voice to say, ‘what can I do about this?’”

Bus Legislation for Change

Beyond training, Morris and her staff have worked closely with Michigan lawmakers to add multiple pieces of legislation that keep students and drivers safe, such as:

  • Passing a stopped school bus with its stop arm extended was already illegal, but now law enforcement is permitted to use camera footage from the bus to enforce the crime.
  • Boarding a school bus without permission is now a civil infraction.
  • Buses can now feature a sign on the side of the vehicle explaining the penalty for unauthorized entry.

The legislation championed by Morris has resulted in buses across the state being equipped with additional safety features that weren’t present before. Safety features like outside cameras, LED stop signs, and LED bus signs are now commonplace.

We applaud the work Morris and MAPT have done. What started at West Shore ESD has branched out throughout all of Michigan and, in some cases North America, for a solitary reason: it keeps students and drivers safe.

Members of MASB-SEG Property/Casualty Pool all play a role in maintaining the level of security the pool offers. Regardless of the size of the district, or level of employee, we are all contributing to the safety and security of Michigan public schools. That safety often starts and ends with bus drivers.

For more information about current and upcoming bus safety training, as well as general news regarding pupil transportation in the state of Michigan, visit the MAPT website.

All the Pieces of the Puzzle for School Bus Safety

Want to learn more about bus safety? Watch our EduSeries Training video with SET SEG’s Loss Control Representative Jamison Hagerty and West Shore ESD’s Transportation Director Katrina Morris as the walk viewers through the key points of building and maintaining a strong transportation program.

Click here to watch!