On July 1, 2004, DMI began operation with a commitment that no College would pay more in insurance premium than what was paid the previous year. DMI held costs in year one to pre-DMI levels, and the initial goal to start-up with a 0% budget increase was achieved. At this premium level, the DMI budget met all of its financial obligations including funding to mandated reserve levels, paying claims, providing insurance services and accumulating working capital for operations. Subsequent performance confirmed that year one was not an anomaly. In fact, for the first five years of DMI operation, cost containment was accomplished even though risk exposure increased in areas including payroll, property values, student and faculty FTE.

Since the 7/1/04 startup, manuscript insurance policies have been issued to the Colleges extending consistent coverage limits, sub-limits, and deductible levels. In addition, claims’ reporting was standardized. Defense Counsel was engaged with negotiated rates applicable to all Member Colleges. Numerous coverage enhancements were included along with higher coverage limits than available prior to DMI. The formation of DMI also eliminated numerous coverage gaps. A “best practice” approach was adopted to address common risk management matters.

The previous method the Colleges used for acquiring insurance via a bid process was time-consuming and duplicative. The creation of DMI eliminated a large investment of College time, duplication and created a significantly streamlined process.

Insurance coverage documents are written for the unique exposures presented by technical education. Loss control services are targeted to strategically address “hot topics”. The risk management approach that has been adopted is proactive, and the Colleges have evolved from holding an insurance policy to be an active participant in an integrated risk management program. 

Cost has been a significant consideration. DMI has successfully provided comprehensive coverage and a range of services previously unavailable yet maintained a flat rating model for coverage. The capitalization goal of DMI has been achieved without requiring any additional cost for the Colleges.

Multiple years of stable pricing in the commercial insurance market is highly uncommon; however, DMI has held the rates stable for the Member Colleges even though exposure data has changed (payroll, property value, FTEs, and the number of motor vehicles all increased).

DMI has also expanded from four policies to seven based on the evolving risk environment. Recent additions include Cyber Liability, Active Threat and Sabotage/Terrorism.

In 2009 DMI took action to proactively provide risk management services to the Colleges by employing a professional Environmental Health and Safety Consultant to deliver services and training directly to the 16 Technical Colleges.

In 2015, DMI employed a second industry expert to provide Business Continuity and Crisis Management consultation. This was followed in 2017 with the engagement of a Campus Security Consultant.

The DMI consultants are subject matter experts, who have extensive “real world” experience and expertise in their respective fields. The consultants are recognized industry professionals who have taken a leadership role in assisting the Colleges with developing creative and innovative risk mitigation strategies. Their guidance and support are highly valued by the Colleges.

DMI continues to bring measurable value to the 16 Technical Colleges both in cost savings and services. Regarding costs, over the past 15 years, DMI has saved the Colleges over 16 million dollars in premium when compared to the greater commercial marketplace. In addition, to date, DMI has provided in excess of 4.3 million in risk management services at no cost to the Colleges.

With the accomplishments listed above, it became obvious to the DMI Chief Executive and Board of Directors that the organization’s mission had matured well beyond more traditional insurance carriers. To demonstrate this transition the Board of Directors amended the name of the organization and in 2016 DMI became Districts Mutual Insurance and Risk Management Services. To further demonstrate this differentiation, the DMI Chief Executive and Consultant staff identified and published the organization’s core values, represented by the acronym DMI CARES, defined as:

C – Collaboration – partnering with member Colleges to manage risk.
A – Advocacy – assuming the role of “champion” of the Wisconsin Technical Colleges by working on behalf and in support of these institutions.
R – Resources – providing services, training, and funding for College risk mitigation initiatives.
E – Expertise – providing “cutting edge” knowledge and experience to the Colleges.
S – Solutions – assisting the Colleges with problem-solving.

Going forward, DMI has set several strategic objectives:

  1. Strive to be the Risk Management thought leader for the Wisconsin Technical Colleges.
  2. Provide a variety of risk mitigation educational/consultative and guidance opportunities.
  3. Create incentive opportunities encouraging the Colleges to recognize risk management efforts and develop innovative risk mitigation projects.
  4. Continue to be a responsible fiscal advocate for the 16 Technical Colleges.

 As DMI looks ahead our goal is to continue our mission to be a collaborator in risk management with our Technical College partners. DMI will achieve this goal by providing superior insurance coverage, enhanced specialty coverage, growing risk management resources, addressing loss control, continuity of operations and campus security in a proactive manner, aggressively managing claims expense, and maintaining price stability.