Insurance claims hitting town in the pocketbook

 

By Karen Fallon

A report prepared by the town’s deputy clerk Paula Parker, outlined the insurance claims history in the municipality over the past ten years for council at the July 23 meeting.

These claims, fall into several categories: sidewalks, sewers, roads, police, fire, recreation and general.

During the period from 2006 to 2010, the breakdown of claims were due to: sidewalks 20 per cent, sewer 18 per cent, roads 22 per cent, police four per cent, general 15, per cent, fire two per cent and recreation three per cent.

According to a report compiled by Brenda Percy manager council and legislative services, in December 2011, municipal liability premiums are on the increase across municipalities in Ontario.

Percy’s earlier report dealt with the town’s insurance renewal with the Frank Cowan Company for 2011/2012, at a cost of $767,880 plus taxes. This noted Percy saw an increase of $36,626 or 4.77 per cent over the previous year.

In 2008-2009 the cost to the town for insurance was $399.912.

Municipal liability is adversely impacted, notes Percy, by such factors as joint and several liability (the 1 per cent rule) and large damage awards predicted on future care costs for catastrophic injuries.

The one per cent rule “really handcuffs municipalities,” says councillor John Sutton, who went on to explain that even if the municipality is found to be one per cent liable and if the other parties are unable to pay their portion of the settlement, the total amount falls back on the municipality.

“That is totally ridiculous; totally unfair to the taxpayer and it is totally unfair that we don’t get these reports and there aren’t names attached to them,” said Sutton. “If we are falling down on the job we need to do a better job, but at the same time there is an element of personal responsibility when we are walking around town, running around town, or driving around town” he continued.

Accidents happen, but this has gotten completely out of control when we are paying close to $800,000 a year in premiums,” said Sutton.

Councillor Carolyn Davies says she found the report “exciting” as she operates in the world of health and safety and prevention.

“I thought it would be an interesting exploration to sit down and analyze all the different insurance claims,” said Davies, to see if the town could become more proactive in decreasing the amount of claims.

“I know there is some pro-activity going on but it would be interesting to see if we could take some of these numbers and bring them down over a period of time,” she added.

Councillor Bart DiPasquale, says although some of the claims are noted as “no claims” they still cost the municipality money.

“As soon as we file a claim it costs us money,” pointed out DiPasquale.

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