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Visitors Center insurance change creates concerns for board members
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (May 29, 2010) — What Tourism Director Beth Wiles had expected to be a routine report on changing an insurance carrier turned into an extended discussion and appointment of a three-member review committee.

Wiles told Pulaski County Tourism Bureau board members at their Thursday evening meeting that after soliciting bids, she decided to change property insurance coverage for the Visitors Center from Farm Bureau to Hartford Insurance, which is being handled by Ron Tagge, who has longstanding ties to the area and has recently opened an insurance agency in the Buckhorn area.

“We were able to better some of our coverage and lower the premiums,” Wiles said.

While the Tourism Bureau’s insurance premiums are only about $2,000 per year, board chairwoman Twyla Cordry said she didn’t like learning that the decision had already been made without her involvement.

“I really think that should have been brought to the board,” Cordry said. “I guess my point on insurance companies is sometimes your insurance company agent is just as important as your insurance company or vice versa and I think that should be a board decision. I’m not going to disagree with what has been done, I’m just saying that it should be a board decision if you’re going to go switching companies on anything that is of that much value.”

Wiles apologized: other board members said the decision on renewing insurance premiums had not come to the board before, but noted that the past decisions had been to renew the existing policy rather than change the policy.

Cordry said that from her experience, a wrong decision on insurance can have dire consequences.

“I have quite a few rentals,” Cordry said. “I didn’t have some right coverages that the insurance agent said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s covered, that’s covered,’ Well guess what? It wasn’t,” Cordry said. “Until it bites you in the ass, you don’t have a problem with it. I have a real issue on just sending out a bid on insurance and saying, ‘OK, we’re going to take this bid.’ It don’t work that way.”

The total value of the property covered by the insurance policy is between $800,000 and $900,000, Cordry said, arguing that decisions affecting that much value should be board decisions even if the actual premium is relatively small.

“You’re talking a big-buck issue and I think that needs to in the future go before the board,” Cordry said. “It’s definitely not a low bid situation, we’re not required to take the low bid, and low bid ain’t gonna cut it.”

Wiles asked if the board wanted to go into closed session to discuss the decision as a contractual matter; Cordy said that’s not necessary but asked for the creation of a committee to review the insurance.

“It’s already done, it’s paid for. Everything is probably OK, but that’s not the point,” Cordry said. “That’s a major issue and I think it needs to be addressed by the board. It’s not a $100 deal, it’s not a $500 deal. We’ve worked very hard to get this building and to keep it and do what we’ve done.”

Board member Bob Sutcliffe agreed and said that like Cordry, he’s had problems with his own insurance coverage for his resort.

“We’re with the same agent and we’ve been with him for 10 years. I got my policy last year and I had five cabins that weren’t on it. If a tornado came through and blew them five cabins over I’d have been dead dog out,” Sutcliffe said. “We need to sit down and go through every point of that stuff.”

Board members agreed to name a committee consisting of Cordry, Sutcliffe and local restaurant owner Leon Saxton to review the decision and come back to the Tourism Board with recommendations.

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