In Michigan's challenging budgetary atmosphere and with growing pressures for identifying ways to save money through cooperative purchasing and other collaborative ventures, it seems appropriate to remind ourselves of a shining example of one of the first successful and effective collaborations between the state's universities.
In 1985 the Business Officers and Risk Managers of the thirteen public universities recognized that insurance coverages were either unavailable or very expensive. In response to that crisis, a task force was formed to study the problem and make a recommendation to the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan1. Under the leadership of Robert Romkema, then Vice President for Business and Finance of Eastern Michigan University, the task force recommended the formation of a risk sharing facility. With the support and approval of the Presidents Council, ten of the thirteen public institutions signed a participation agreement on June 25, 1987 authorizing the formation of a non-profit organization called the Michigan Higher Education Group Self-Insurance and Risk-Management Facility doing business as the Michigan Universities Self-Insurance Corporation - M.U.S.I.C.
Now, that precedent breaking venture has completed its twentieth year of operation. M.U.S.I.C. has saved its eleven Members2 several million premium dollars while providing broad coverages to the universities. Errors and Omissions (E&O) and Commercial General Liability (CGL) - the original coverages - continue to be the heart of the program. Property coverage was added in 1989 with several other coverages such as excess Workers Compensation, Automobile Liability and Physical Damage, Foreign Liability, Medical Malpractice and non-owned Aviation added as group purchases over the years.
While hard markets and times of natural and man-made turmoil in the insurance industry (9/11, hurricanes, earthquakes) caused premiums to skyrocket and coverages to erode, M.U.S.I.C. has been a positive force in mitigating the effect of those rising costs on its Members. Long term relationships with underwriters and sound loss control practices have paid off in significantly lower premium adjustments, than would have been experienced by the Members in the commercial insurance environment.
In addition, M.U.S.I.C. has declared dividends that have returned significant equity dollars to its Member Institutions. In the traditional commercial insurance environment these dollars would have been gone forever. Only through prudent financial management, attention to loss control, and effective claims handling have these financial expediencies been possible.
M.U.S.I.C., by design, is a volunteer organization with each person working on behalf of their institution and the Facility to bring affordable, consistent and effective risk financing, loss control, and claims management to each of our Members. This progress and success wouldn't be possible without the commitment and dedication of the Member Institutions' Directors, Alternate Directors, a host of other volunteers, and its third party administrators led by its Facility Manager Marsh USA.
M.U.S.I.C. and its Board of Directors want to thank the Presidents Council and the Business Affairs Officers for having the vision to create such an innovative method for resolving the insurance problem and for their steadfast support of the volunteers serving as officers, chairpersons and Members of Committees and for allowing them to give their time and expertise to these collaborative efforts. That forward thinking continues to "pay dividends" in the very challenging budget climate we face today. We all should be proud of the twenty years of success of M.U.S.I.C. and look forward to the challenge of another twenty years of challenges, successes and collaboration.