Insurance premiums come in over budget

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During their Dec. 27 meeting, the Commissioners’ Court discussed the renewal of their property, casualty, and auto insurance with Sawyer & Associates Insurance.

The commissioners first approved an order exempting them from the requirement to go out for bids for their insurance policies.

Clyde Sawyer, a partner with Sawyer & Associates, presented the policy information to the court, stating he shops around for their insurance every year.

"We take it to probably at least eight markets," Sawyer said. "But for public entities, there are a limited number of markets."

Sawyer said that the county could enter into a policy with a 2 percent deductible for wind and hail coverage. Sawyer also explained that the deductible was per occurrence.

"If you had a hail storm in Fort Stockton today, you would have a $25,000 deductible," said Sawyer. "If you have one the next day in Iraan, it is still a $25,000 deductible. This is a blanketed deductible."

Sawyer also touched on the auto insurance he had found for the county.

"Historically with the county, if a vehicle is over five years old, it is only covered for liability unless it is an emergency vehicle," Sawyer said. "We do keep comp and collision on those. Anything over five years, we go with liability coverage."

The employee benefits plan also included liability coverage, according to Sawyer.

"Say we forget to add someone to the county's insurance or they weren't put in the system in a timely manner to the retirement plan," Sawyer continued, "That's where this comes in."

Law enforcement liability, public entity, and board liability were also discussed. Airport coverage was mentioned, and cyber liability coverage was explained.

After finishing with all the details, Sawyer talked about the total cost for the plan. According to Sawyer, the total premium would cost approximately $741,300.

"This is an increase of about $65,000," said Sawyer. "But during the course of the year, we added some things. We always add new vehicles, and buildings do increase in value."

The court discussed the premium cost, stating they had budgeted $700,000 for insurance purposes.

Judge Joe Shuster told the court that pulling the remaining money from the contingency fund would be their option.

"Last year we budgeted $650,000, so we did show an increase," said Shuster. "Apparently we didn't go high enough; we increased the budget $50,000 but we are still short $41,000. It's a guessing game every time."

Following more discussion, the court unanimously approved the plan presented by Sawyer, with the added specification that the extra funds needed would be taken from the contingency fund.

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