Insurer for Arizona schools won’t provide liability coverage for COVID-19

Jul 27, 2020, 4:25 AM | Updated: 9:55 am
(Getty Images/Ernesto Ryan)...
(Getty Images/Ernesto Ryan)
(Getty Images/Ernesto Ryan)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s largest insurer for schools will not provide liability coverage for claims related to COVID-19, leaving districts worried about potential lawsuits and resulting costs.

The Arizona School Risk Retention Trust, also known as the Trust, provides insurance coverage to nearly 250 school districts and community colleges in Arizona. It operates as a risk retention pool funded and governed by its members, and is backed by reinsurance companies.

Last week, the Trust notified its members that it will exclude coverage for liability claims related to the coronavirus.

That means the Trust will not provide coverage for claims or lawsuits that allege a school district is liable for injuries or damages caused by COVID-19. This includes parents who sue because they think their children contracted the coronavirus at school.

“The legal support would still be there,” Ken Hicks, who sits on the Trust’s board of directors, told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “What we don’t have is that ironclad that says ‘yes, we’ll cover every claim no matter what.’”

The logic behind the exclusion is that it’s difficult to know where or how someone contracted COVID-19. Hicks explained there are many possible avenues for exposure.

He added the move was unavoidable because their reinsurance partners do not provide liability coverage for claims relating to an organic pathogen such as the coronavirus.

The Trust put together a waiver and several forms for parents to sign that essentially helps protect school districts from legal claims.

Hicks said they are meant to inform parents about what schools are doing to protect their kids from the spread of the coronavirus and to make them aware of the risk of coming on to campus.

The Trust, however, will provide coverage for cleaning and disinfecting a school if a COVID-19 outbreak were to occur. It will also provide workers’ compensation to staff members who prove they contracted the coronavirus at school.

There is a chance the Trust could make changes to the type of coverage it offers for COVID-19. Hicks said the board will meet in August to consider its options and possibly vote on a final plan for coverage.

Before adjourning in May, state lawmakers tried to pass a bill that would’ve protected schools from liability lawsuits related to COVID-19. The bill passed the House but it did not get a vote in the Senate.

Gov. Doug Ducey was asked on Thursday if he would consider calling a special session to address liability issues for schools. Ducey said he’s waiting to see what Congress does “before we make a decision around that next step.”

“They are going to do something, and it’s going to be likely this next week,” he added. “Then we will have a better line of sight as to what might be needed in Arizona.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

John Charpiot, left, and David Harmon. (Facebook Photos/Coolidge Police Department)...
Kevin Stone

Arizona prison system implements changes after reviewing January escape

The Arizona prison system announced new safety measures following a review of how two inmates escaped last winter in an incident that sparked an intense five-day manhunt.
1 day ago
(Arizona Governor's Office Photo)...

Tucson border patrol agent dies in line of duty; flags to fly half-staff Saturday

Flags will fly at half-staff across the state Saturday for a Tucson border patrol agent that died in the line of duty.
1 day ago
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., runs from the Senate chamber after voting on an appropriations bill t...
Kevin Stone

In CNN interview, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema won’t tip hand on $2T domestic bill

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema wouldn’t commit to supporting her party’s $2 trillion domestic agenda during a sit-down interview with CNN on Thursday, but she didn’t provide specifics on how to secure her vote.
1 day ago
A member of the Atelotorque performance troupe. (Photo via Phoenix Zoo/Peter Speyer)...

Acrobats imagine animals’ lives after dark for new Phoenix Zoo fundraiser

The Phoenix Zoo announced a new fundraising event -- Animals After Dark, An Aerial Experience -- featuring animal-themed acrobatics performed against the backdrop of the venue’s main lake.
1 day ago
(Eegee's Rendering)...
Danny Shapiro

Eegee’s opening Mesa location, its second in the East Valley, in mid-December

Eegee's has set an opening date for its second foray into the East Valley, this time in Mesa.
1 day ago
Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes (Yavapai County Sheriff's Office Photo)...
Associated Press

Northern Arizona sheriff pleads guilty to operating boat while drunk

Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes pleaded guilty on Thursday to operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol and was sentenced to a year of probation and will spend two days in home confinement.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Arizona State University

Gain insights on next year’s trends at 58th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon

Employment is recovering from the severe contraction induced by the pandemic, but it is still way below levels at the start of 2020. Can it fully recover in the coming year?

How your family can explore the Musical Instrument Museum

Whether you want to spend a day with family, do crafts with kids at home, or have an adult night out, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has options. As the world’s only global musical instrument museum, MIM offers interactive and immersive exhibits to foster an appreciation of different cultures and their instruments. “A visit […]
Schwartz Laser Eye Center

How to sharpen your vision with elective procedures

Imagine opening your eyes in the morning and being able to see clearly. You wouldn’t have to wait to put on glasses or contacts, and there would be no more blurry showers nor forgetting where your glasses are.
Insurer for Arizona schools won’t provide liability coverage for COVID-19