A lot has changed in the 20 years since VML Insurance Programs (VMLIP) Managing Director Steve Craig joined the pool. Today he 16 he celebrates his 20 year service anniversary.
Craig began working with the pool in 1988 as an employee of Alexander & Alexander (A&A), where he served as an underwriter on the VMLIP account. At the time the pool outsourced all services except general administration of the insurance program to A&A. Coverages offered included general liability, automobile liability and physical damage coverages, as well as workers’ compensation.
In 1991 Craig was hired by VMLIP as assistant administrator, responsible for bringing the marketing of the program in-house, and working directly with members and prospective members. In his 20 years, he has seen the pool grow dramatically in the depth and breadth of coverage, service, and size of membership.
“I remember going over the 100 member mark,” said Craig. “It was a completely different era, we had no computers; we typed policy form templates, made copies, and then literally typed all of the member specific information on them by hand.”
In 1996, the pool has also moved administration of the coverages and marketing in-house.
“The size of the staff has increased as we have come to rely less on outside vendors over the years,” said Craig. “When we do use an outside vendor, they are thoroughly vetted to make sure they meet the high standards our members deserve and have come to expect.
Craig became the pool’s managing director in March of 2002.
From the original offerings of general liability, automobile liability and physical damage, and workers’ compensation, the pool now offers public officials liability, law enforcement liability, land use liability, employment practices liability, property, boiler & machinery, inland marine, crime and bonds, flood and earthquake, pollution, Line of Duty Act coverage, and cyber liability coverage – something unheard of 20 years ago.
Technology has changed not only the type of coverages offered, but the way the pool operates.
“Technology has exploded,” said Craig. “Improved technology has provided significant opportunities to improve with respect to products and services for members, and for operational efficiency.”
Today members are able to administer many different account functions online. They can use the VMLIP Web site to file a claim, change or update their property schedules, or access any number of risk management tools.
Services and resources offered to members has also greatly expanded.
“We have added professional staff to provide loss control services in the areas of law enforcement, employment practices liability and public relations,” said Craig. “We have also significantly expanded training opportunities including the online university, webinars, the Where the Rubber Meets the Road defensive driving training, and law enforcement training.”
This is in addition to the regular local and regional training the pool maintains.
However the pool continues to face challenges in terms of educating members and governing officials about the value of membership with VMLIP and the importance of risk management.
“A pool is not insurance,” says Craig. “It’s a partnership between hundreds of members who ideally all commit to proactive risk management.”
By working together to mitigate risks, claims decrease and all members save on their insurance premiums.
“Many members recognize this and formally assign risk management responsibility and authority to someone,” said Craig. “Helping members to understand that the long-term commitment to risk management is what will lead to lower premium costs over time can be a challenge.”
Craig feels confident the pool is meeting its primary mission – to maintain relatively stable rates and a strong balance sheet to ensure the pool is there for members when needed. He’s excited to see what comes next.
“We will continue to explore new ideas for better serving members and offering cutting edge products and services,” said Craig. “We have recently launched our social media programs including a blog and a Facebook and Twitter presence.”
VMLIP is one of the first pools in the country to begin utilizing these methods of communication. The pool has also just launched the Business Continuity Services program and is working closely with members to ensure they are prepared for a disaster that affects their ability to operate.
“We are also working on a potential program that would provide technology support services to members,” said Craig. “We are one of the first pools in the country to provide cyber liability coverage, and this would stem from that, providing assistance to members in this evolving area of liability.”
Craig takes tremendous satisfaction from being a part of something he believes in.
“Pooling is vitally important to local governments, their employees, citizens and students,” said Craig. “I’ve been incredibly lucky to have found a career that provides so much satisfaction,” said Craig. “We have a talented staff that is dedicated to our mission and I look forward to working with them to continue to make the pool better for our members.”