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County considers different insurance carrier

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Dec. 16, 2008) — Pulaski County has used the Missouri Association of Counties for many years to purchase its workers’ compensation insurance but commissioners are considering alternatives due to escalating costs.

One of those alternatives is Ken Bassett of Bassett Insurance and Real Estate of St. Robert, who already provides the county’s vehicle and property insurance. At Monday’s County Commisson meeting, Bassett brought proposals for insurance through Missouri Employers Mutual that would cost the county either $90,199 or $106,269, depending on which of two insurance ratings the county could obtain.

Bassett said the county is already being charged 13 percent more than the standard premium due to high losses and that’s likely to go up even more next year. The county experienced $117,000 more than the previous year in losses, Bassett said.

“I’m reasonably sure the experience modification will be more than 1.13, but I don’t have any idea what it will be,” Bassett said.

The biggest way to save on insurance costs, Bassett said, is to cut down the number and cost of claims.

“If we can get the experience mod to even to less than even, 0.95 to 1, to maybe 1.05, what we can do is bring the rates from not-so-good to standard,” Bassett said.

That would save the county about 15 percent, he said.

Bassett said the company he represents offers driving lessons and other types of safety training that may help cut down on the losses.

“Insurance companies are being more competitive and trying to get you to keep their business,” Bassett said. “This company has all kinds of safety programs they will put on and come out for a group.”

One potential problem, Bassett said, is that the county may have signed an agreement with the Missouri Association of Counties years ago requiring advance notice before cancelling its insurance with that organization. Bassett said he doesn’t know the details of any notice requirements the county may have signed and said they may not be enforceable agreements.

Commissioner Dennis Thornsberry questioned whether an agreement was enforceable from an organization giving a quote but requiring notice of cancellation before the quote was provided.

“If they’re going to wait until the 30th of December to give us a quote, how could something like that be enforceable?” Thornsberry asked. “That’s not good business.”

“Some of them are as long as six months,” Bassett said.

Commissioner Bill Farnham said the county needs to check carefully before acting.

“I guarantee they had a very slick lawyer write this,” Farnham said.

In other business:

• Commissioners said they’ve received a number of complaints about road conditions following recent rains, but Ricky Zweerink, who will take office in January succeeding Dennis Thornsberry as the new western district county commissioner, said he knows from his experience driving rural roads that county workers do a good job.

“You think the potholes are bad here, you should see the city of Crocker. One guy was telling me that if I moved to town it’d be worse,” Zweerink said.

“That pothole business is just a fact of life,” Thornsberry agreed.

• County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer presented a request from the union representing Pulaski County road and bridge workers, whose contract will expire in December, to continue that contract into next year since county commissioners won’t begin planning their budget until January when financial data is complete. Responding to questions from commissioners, Linnenbringer said seven county road and bridge workers are currently union members and two more will soon be eligible for union membership.

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