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Tritt Appointed Constable In District 1

Derrick Surrette

By David Howell

WATER VALLEY – During a recessed meeting Monday Yalobusha County supervisors formally accepted the Dec. 4 resignation letter from District 1 Constable Brent Anderson and appointed Larry Tritt to fill the remaining year of Anderson’s four-year term.
    The appointment came with little discussion after all four supervisors attending the meeting expressed favor with Tritt. District 2 Supervisor Amos Sims was absent from the meeting due to illness.
    Tritt also works as a Coffeeville police officer and has a long law enforcement history. He was previously appointed constable in 2011 to fill the remainder of the term for District 1 Constable after Charles Calder passed away while in office.  Tritt served from late January, 2011, until November, 2011, when Anderson immediately took office after his victory in the General Election.
    Anderson’s family told the Herald the resignation comes with a career change that will require his family to relocate to Texas.
  Other business discussed at Monday’s recessed meeting included:
      • Supervisors received quotes for the county’s general liability insurance policy from the existing provider, Zurich Insurance, and a second quote for a new product offered by the Mississippi Association of Super-visors (MAS) through an insurance pool that provides coverage for 29 counties in the state.
       MAS Executive Director and Yalobusha native Derrick Surrette discussed the new product’s (Mississippi Association of Supervisors Insurance Trust or MASIT) benefits over many of the existing policies offered to counties in the state. Surrette stressed that he was not attending Monday’s meeting to sell a product, instead his purpose was to explain the benefits of the insurance pool to see if it would meet the county’s needs.
    “The association started this on April 1 and now insures more counties than any other insurance carrier in the State of Mississippi,” Surrette explained, adding the project had been in the works for five years.
    Surrette touted several advantages to the coverage provided by the insurance pool, including full replacement value coverage and historic standards, earthquake and flood coverage up to $50 million for the entire pool and no annual limits on general liability.
    “Historic Standards are a big thing.  Y’all have got two historic courthouses here in my home county,” Surrette explained, citing the destruction of the Webster County courthouse by fire as an example. Under a competitor’s policy, Surrette said claim paid based on the stated value of the courthouse wasn’t sufficient to rebuild the structure.
    He acknowledged that the insurance pool came with risks, including potential exposure to the participating counties if total damages to the entire pool exceeded a quarter-billion dollars in a single, catastrophic event.
    He explained the quarter-billion dollar limit was geared to cover a huge hit, citing Hurricane Katrina as an example.  Surrette also explained the quarter-billion dollar limit for the pool was provided through the purchase of reinsurance.
    “We are really not a self-insured pool, we are  really a reinsurance pool,” Surrette said. He also said the state’s six coastal counties are prohibited from joining the pool for property coverage. Counties nearest Yalobusha who have joined the MASIT property and casualty pool include Calhoun, Grenada and Carroll.
    He added that similar pools operate effectively in neighboring states including Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama and Kentucky and MAS had contracted with experts to set up the insurance pools. Surrette also said the policy would still be written by the county’s local agent, Tyler Wortham.
    “The last thing I will talk about is price. Yes, our price is often times lower, sometimes it is not,” Surrette said. The quote for the insurance pool was $143,036 annually for Yalobusha.
    Following Surrette’s comments, Wortham, the county’s insurance agent of record provided input on the competing policy, Zurich, which quoted a $168,160 annual premium.
    “This is not a competitor we would be the agent either way you go,” Wortham explained before explaining the pros and cons of the policies and ultimately recommending the Zurich policy.
Wortham first explained the deductibles between the two options differ.
    Property deductibles for loss of property is $2,500 with Zurich and $5,000 with the pool; in automobile coverage, Zurich’s deductible is $500 and the pool is $1,000; and in the public officials liability is $2,500 for Zurich and the pool has a $10,000 deductible.
    “You have two different animals here,” Wortham also explained. “Once you become part of the pool, you become the insured and the insurance company,” he explained, reminding county officials they could face additional exposure in a catastrophe, pointing to the quarter-billion dollar limit.
    “Our county alone has $14 million in coverage on property. If you start adding them up coming up through the state, I am not sure that limit would survive on a major deal,” Wortham noted.
    The insurance agent also pointed to ratings generated from the A.M. Best Company for insurance companies, which ranks Zurich among the highest.
    “Unfortunately the pool, being as new as it is, does not have the rating,” Wortham added.
    “We have had good success with Zurich, most of the coverages are the same…  noting the county’s courthouses are currently insured with adequate value for an actual replacement cost. We would be your agent either way, but I will tell you I am not particularly confident about choosing the pool. That’s my opinion now, that’s what you pay me for,” Wortham said in closing.
    The county’s renewal date is January 1, and supervisors will make a selection at a recessed meeting scheduled December 29 at 9 a.m.

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