The county faces a decision after the company that provides its umbrella insurance coverage – Safety National – said it would drop the law enforcement portion of the coverage.
The decline is about 27% of county coverage, with the balance remaining in effect for all other areas of county staff and operations, Russ Davies of Andres O’Neil Insurance Agency said Monday. & Lowe, to the Williams County Commissioners.
Davies stressed that it had nothing to do with issues of professionalism, performance or accountability of local law enforcement. Rather, it reflects national trends around social justice issues, with a corresponding increase in civil judgments against law enforcement on charges of misconduct – a trend sometimes referred to as “social inflation”.
The trend isn’t just limited to Williams County and affects every municipality that Bryan-based Andres, O’Neill & Lowe works with, Davies said.
“We are fortunate in Northwest Ohio that our law enforcement professionals make good decisions every day. So it’s nothing unique for us,” Davies said.
In a post on social inflation at www.safetynational.com/how-social-inflation-affects-liability-costs, specialty insurance and reinsurance provider, Safety National, said, “Over the past five to six years, we have seen a steady increase in jury awards. We have also seen an overall increase in the number of cases decided, particularly in cases valued up to $1 million.
Davies said overall the county’s coverage costs aren’t expected to increase, but he wanted to let the commissioners know about the dropped coverage and see if they wanted to make up the difference in coverage in a separate policy.
Stewards said they wanted more information before making a decision.
“From my point of view, I think (the reduced coverage) is sufficient. I would be happy with (that) as long as there is some reduction in the cost of the premium,” Commissioner Brian Davis said.
Davies, however, warned that the county’s savings “may not be as significant … as we anticipate” due to inflationary pressure on the overall cost of that specific insurance coverage. He said, however, that he would research the matter and report his findings.
County Commissioner Lew Hilkert also asked Davies to research what other countries with similar characteristics are doing and paying, which Davies agreed.
In other recent actions, the commissioners:
• Said in a Feb. 10 letter to Carol Czech, president of Airmate Company in Bryan, the county could not use its American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to help pay for a waterline extension to the factory, located on County Road D near the county airport.
The commissioners said they contacted the Ohio County Commissioners Association (CCAO) to determine if the county could use ARP funding for this type of project.
“The information provided to us was that this would be new construction and ARP funding cannot be used for funding new infrastructure projects. It can only be used for upgrade existing infrastructure. As a result, Williams County Commissioners will not be able to fund your proposed project,” the commissioners told Czech.
Czech on July 12, 2021 had approached the commissioners about financial assistance for the water main extension, part of what Czech said was a million dollar plan to expand the metal and plastic manufacturing plant.
Airmate annexed to the city in 2006, and Czech then opted to pay for a sewage pipe extension, but not a water pipe extension, which would have cost the city about $72,000. time, said Nathan Gardner, director of municipal utilities for Bryan.
Last year, the city said it would cost $500,000 to expand the water main, while Bryan-based S&S Directional Boring quoted a price of $360,000. .
• Accepted a request from the Williams County Port Authority to authorize the Williams County Attorney to provide legal services to the Port Authority pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code. Terms are for one year with automatic renewal.