By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – As the new year approaches, Yalobusha Supervisors are weighing insurance policies for the county’s general liability insurance and employees’ health insurance.
Supervisors learned last month of a probable hefty premium hike coming from Blue Cross/Blue Shield in 2009. Blue Cross/Blue Shield is the current carrier for the county employee’s health insurance, and the increase is attributed to an extremely high number of claims paid during the current year by the company.
After weighing the pros and cons of soliciting quotes from additional companies, supervisors informally opted not to make a change during a recessed meeting held last Thursday in Coffeeville.
“Y’all want to wait and look on the first and see what Mississippi Group Marketing brings?” McMinn asked, before the decision was made. Mississippi Group Marketing currently provides quotes for the county’s employee health insurance from the current provider, Blue Cross, and can also obtain quotes from Humana, United Health Care, and Total Plan Services.
McMinn said she had talked to an insurance agent who could possibly obtain health insurance quotes from three additional companies.
“None of it is going to be good,” District Five Bubba Tillman, referring to potential quotes from the other companies. “All of the other counties have got the same deal going (higher premiums) and some of them aren’t talking about swapping.”
District One Supervisor Tommy Vaughn, District Four Supervisor George Suggs and District Two Supervisor Amos Sims agreed not to make a change following the discussion. District Three Supervisor M.H. “Butch” Surrette was ill and not at the meeting.
Supervisors also learned they could anticipate a rate increase for their general liability policy, according to Andy Shaw, the county’s agent of record.
“I got an e-mail saying the last three year average was 90 percent, premium versus claims, and that is too high. I would anticipate some rate increase on that,” Shaw explained to Supervisors.
Part of the anticipated rate increase could come from what Board Attorney John Crow described as frivolous lawsuits aimed at the sheriff’s office.
“There are three outrageously bogus claims involving excessive force, as far as handcuffs. The other one was failure to treat, one the prisoners opened his mouth and another prisoner shut it for him,” Crow explained.
Crow said he did not anticipate any of the lawsuits actually advancing to a court setting, and the county has motions for summary judgments in each one of them.
Also, in a twist of events, Shaw asked the board to work with Tyler Wortham, in an effort to obtain quotes from additional companies. Wortham had previously served as the county’s insurance agent several years earlier.
“If it is okay with the board, I would like to work with Tyler (Wortham) on this,” Shaw told supervisors.
The men will work jointly to obtain quotes from multiple companies.
“Whoever you quote, can you get me a copy of the policy, so I can look at coverages and exclusions?” Crow asked. “I just worry about exclusions, we can’t afford much more,” Crow continued.
The board attorney’s remarks followed comments about Traveler’s Insurance denying coverage of a lawsuit filed in January against the county.
In this suit, Fletcher Fly sued the county, seeking to determine ownership of County Road 161 near Tillatoba.
“We got this Fly case, and had we been sued for trespassing it would have picked up coverage,” Crow explained last Thursday. “We are thousands (of dollars) into it now, after denied coverage,” Crow said.