Claremore Daily Progress

June 18, 2013

Commissioners look to reduce insurance expenses

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

The Rogers County Commissioners are looking at ways to save money in the new fiscal year by reviewing their current insurance policy.
At their weekly meeting Monday the board reviewed a proposal with Dave Burrows, Travelers Insurance Agent.
The policy premium is approximately $600,000, covering auto, property, management liability, employee benefit liability, inland marine, law enforcement liability and general liability premiums to name a few.
The 2013-14 premium is higher  due to the $2 million in added equipment, higher law exposure and 48 new vehicles that were added in 2012-13. 
The addition of the new courthouse property also contributes to the higher premium, according to insurance documents.
Each coverage area is divided by premium; for example, property is approximately $75,000 annually and insures 11 different county-owned buildings.
Burrows told commissioners due to a high number of storms in Oklahoma, premiums are increasing across the state.
The county’s wind and hail coverage will now include a $25,000 deductable, he said.
Rogers County Commissioner Mike Helm requested the auction of items still in the old courthouse facility be held as soon as possible in an effort to save the county $14,000 annually in property premiums.
Helm suggested the county’s emergency management equipment that remains in the building be moved, permitting the change in coverage.
Rogers County Emergency Mangement Director Scotty Stokes is also working to remove approximately 15 vehicles from the policy and inventory further reducing premiums.
The completion of the new E911 Center is another project that could lower costs when completed depending on the creation of the E911 Trust Authority.
If finalized, the trust will take over the expense of coverage, according to Helm. 
Another cost saving measure will include a change in payments for claims and premiums filed through the county’s Criminal Justice Authority.
Helm has initiated a conversation to hold the trust accountable for approximately $62,000 in premiums and any tort or other claim deductibles next year.
“If it [a claim] generates out of the Criminal Justice (Authority) then they need to pay the deductable. Going back and looking at them [the records] the commissioners have been paying them,” Helm said.
In 2012, Travelers Insurance and Rogers County paid approximately $112,306 in property claims, $97,768 in automobile claims, $1,176 in general liability claims, including deductibles. 
The county also has a few malpractice claims still pending.
The county has also submitted a pending claim on their errors and omissions policy for approximately $25,000 to pay for the publication mistake made during the May 14 1-Cent Tax Election.
The county has reduced the number of claims filed each year and continues to look for cost saving measures, according to  Rogers County Commissioner Kirt Thacker.
“We were told in the past that if we hired a human resource director the cost would go down, not up,” Thacker said. Rogers County Human Resource Director Jenny Bentley has also helped reduce insurance costs, according to Thacker.
The increase in the cost of insurance is not specific to Rogers County, according to Burrows.
Burrows congratulated Bentley on the role she has played in implementing new policies. 
The policies can have an affect on risks, he said.
“Jenny is a very good asset to the county,” Burrows said.
The policies and procedures that are being handled, is much better then in the past, he added.
Training that is offered by Travelers Insurance is another asset, helping county management limit safety concerns, according to Burrows.
Several employees have taken advantage of the opportunity to receive the free training that helps the county reduce loss, according to Thacker.