Supervisors decide to remain with Zurich Insurance

Published 8:35 pm Friday, December 21, 2007

After hearing proposals from Zurich, Travelers’ and Stone Oak Insurance Companies, the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors chose to remain with Zurich at their final meeting for the year on Thursday.

Teb Jones, a representative from Stewart, Sneed and Hughes, presented the board with proposals from Stone Oak and Travelers’ Insurance and compared the two with an original bid from Zurich.

Jones said the quotes from Travelers’ and Zurich were extremely similar, but that he could not recommend going with Stone Oak. The policy covers county buildings and vehicles and employee liability.

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“Stone Oak has deductible liability options. The biggest difference is in premium and in wind damage percentage deductible. Because of the frequency of your claims, I can’t recommend going with Stone Oak at this time. Any savings up front would be burned up in deductibles pretty quickly,” Jones told the board.

In his comparison between Travelers’ and Zurich, Jones said that one of the differences was in employment practice liability.

“Travelers’ limits are $15,000, while Zurich’s limits are $5,000,” Jones said. “Also, when it comes to employee benefits liability, Travelers’ offers one million dollars in coverage. I couldn’t find it in Zurich’s proposal.”

Another difference between the two proposals dealt with wind damage and minimum deductibles.

“Zurichs’ minimum wind deductible is five percent of each building damaged. Travelers’ is $50,000 minimum, no matter how many buildings are damaged,” Jones said.

Jones also said the value of some of the county buildings, such as the courthouse and the hospital, should be raised, which would more than likely raise premiums.

“I recommend the board considers adding $7- or $8-million dollars to the buildings’ valuations. You currently have several buildings undervalued, and I recommend you take part of the savings in the premiums to raise the valuations of the buildings,” Jones said.

Jones said he had been provided a quote with a premium of $626,991 from Zurich to compare with the quote from Travelers’ of $520,752.

After Jones’ presentation, Zurich representative Grady Thigpen came before the board with a new proposal.

“We have been with the county and we want to stay here. I went back to them (Zurich) on Monday and came back with this new proposal,” Thigpen said.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said the new proposal was only about eight percent higher than the premium proposed by Travelers’.

“They (Zurich) cut the premium by about $40,000 to $60,000,” Lumpkin said.

After asking both representatives to step out, the board discussed the proposals.

“I know one thing. The competition (from other companies) has helped tremendously because Zurich is willing to reduc e the price tremendously because of the competition,” said District II Supervisor Danny Wise.

“There may be some advantage to having a large organization represent you, but on the other hand, there can be some advantage to working with the local person. I won’t say there have been instances where rules have been broken or bent, but there have been instances where Zurich paid claims that could have been denied, and that was because of our long-standing relationship with Zurich,” said county inventory clerk John Sherman.

District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen asked the supervisors-elect that were present at the meeting for their opinion.

“How did Zurich treat us in the past,” asked District IV Supervisor-elect Sandy Kane Smith.

“They were there when we needed them, and that means a lot,” Robert Thigpen said.

“I like to do business with people from Pearl River County, everything else being halfway equal… Also, I like the five percent minimum wind deductible. With Travelers, with a $50,000 minimum deductible, if you lose one building to a tornado or something, you’re behind the eight-ball,” District III Supervisor-elect Holliday said.

The board voted unanimously to remain with Zurich insurance.

In other business the board:

— Authorized request to issue check to Hancock Bank for Building division vehicles to close out grant.

— Authorized payment of Pearl River Paving invoice in the amount of $19,920 for repair to pilings on bridges #144 and #145.

— Authorized Board President Bettye Stockstill to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the Mississippi Alternative Housing Program, also known as the MEMA Mississippi Cottage program.

The board adjourned for the rest of the year. The next board meeting will be held Jan. 7, 2008, when the new supervisors take office.