2024 Education Outlook: Abuse & Molestation/Reviver Statutes

Despite the evolving market dynamics and shifts in risk trends, the core risks identified by the RCM&D Education Practice have remained largely consistent from past years compared to 2024. These risks include:

  • Hard Insurance Market
  • Abuse/Molestation
  • Student and Employee Mental Health
  • Operational Pressures
  • Business Continuity

The continuity of these risks underscores the persistent challenges facing the education sector and highlights the importance of proactive risk management strategies. This blog will delve into the difficulties of navigating reviver statutes and abuse in the education sector.

The Impact of Reviver Statutes on Schools

The education sector faces unique and sensitive hurdles with the passing of “reviver statutes” in various jurisdictions. These laws allow abuse survivors to file retroactive complaints after the statute of limitations has passed, opening the door to new and return claims. This is a massive step in the right direction to bring justice to survivors, but undoubtedly presents new challenges for schools and insurance carriers. Proper preparation can give your school a chance to respond effectively and protect its reputation, students and staff.

The Extent of the Problem

There are many sexual abuse claims against school systems and reviver statutes empower these victims to speak up and seek help for themselves. One in ten children experience some form of sexual abuse or misconduct by school employees and seven percent of sexual abuse crimes reported took place while the victim was attending school. These allegations do not stop in K-12 schools, either. In just the 2022-2023 academic year, six percent of undergraduate students at Cornell experienced nonconsensual sexual contact involving force or incapacitation.

Navigating Insurance Coverage

If your jurisdiction enacts a “reviver statute,” an increase in claims will become inevitable for schools in those areas. One significant challenge this may pose is lapsed insurance coverage. Incidents may have taken place years or even decades before coming to light with these new laws. Uncovering past insurance coverages can be complex and daunting, but it is essential to understanding potential risk strategies in the face of reviver statutes.

Preparing for the Future

Despite difficulty, adequate preparation can drastically improve your school’s ability to mitigate risk around reviver statutes:

  • Assemble a Team: Form a team comprised of legal advisors, risk management consultants and HR professionals to create a detailed response plan for your school being hit with a claim.
  • Review Insurance Coverage: Set aside time with your broker to examine current and past insurance policies and clarify coverage options. Investigate past brokers and insurance carriers to identify coverage periods and lapses.
  • Develop a Communication Strategy: Create a clear but supportive communication approach to address concerns regarding reviver statutes, abuse and your school’s dedication to fostering a safe learning environment.
  • Prioritize Prevention: Establish a robust prevention program to educate students and faculty on sexual misconduct and underscore the importance of reporting incidents.

By taking a proactive approach to preventing and addressing abuse, your school will be able to cultivate a safer and more supportive atmosphere for both students and staff.

Reach out to an Advisor

We encourage you to reach out to RCM&D with any questions related to your individual institution’s risk management program or for more information on strategies within this report.