Insurance agent: village ‘rolled dice’
The village may have to pay more than $500,000 in flood-repair costs, following a decision by Trident Insurance. Village officials are upset and weighing possible responses.
Members of the village board peppered representatives from their insurance local agency, Cool Insurance Agency Inc., with questions Monday demanding to know what had changed after being informed their coverage did not live up to expectations leaving a gaping hole in village protection relating to Tropical Storm Irene.
Village officials said they were informed Friday Trident Insurance would not cover the first $500,000 in losses sustained in the flooding.
The village has a policy officials said provides $1 million in coverage.
This represents a reversal from the days after the disaster when an insurance company adjuster informed the village they were covered, officials said.
“Frankly, I’m disappointed to be finding out 35 days later,” Mayor Brian LaRose said asking for an explanation.
Officials from Cool Insurance Agency Inc., the village insurance agent, said Trident only recently informed them of the decision.
Gary Edie of Cool Insurance said the village policy only kicks in after $500,000 with a $50,000 deductible per location. He said the agency was appealing the decision, but could not promise any results. One of the topics being discussed is how many “locations” there actually are.
The village needed to purchase additional insurance to ‘pay down’ the amount the village is responsible for, according to the insurance company.
Other municipalities and private organizations were finding themselves in the same boat after deciding against paying for additional coverage, Edie said.
“A lot of people gambled and lost, you’re not alone,” agency co-owner Jack (Lawson) said.
“I find this whole situation unbelievable,” Trustee Gordie Smith said.
Smith said if that was the case, and additional coverage had to be purchased, why had that not been pointed out to the village?
“Did they know they were rolling the dice? Did you make that clear? We’re the consumer that should have been brought to our attention,” Smith said.
Edie said the issue was pointed out to the village and other customers.
“This is the same as the coverage you had before,” Edie said. Granville put out requests for proposals and switched to Cool and Trident as a cost savings move four years ago since 2007.
The village has $1 million in insurance coverage, but that does not kick in until after the village has covered $500,000 in losses plus deductibles of $50,000 per location.
That coverage was essentially “worthless” in that case, Smith said.
Village Clerk Treasurer Rick Roberts said an adjuster from the insurance company came to Granville on Sept. 6, the Labor Day holiday, and pronounced the village covered. “He told us ‘you’re good to go, get to work,’” Roberts said. Several people attended that meeting and Roberts said they all heard the same thing. Edie said the adjuster might not have understood what was covered calling the conversation ‘a misunderstanding.’
Roberts did not mince words expressing his displeasure with Trident and Cool. “We are your customers, you should be advocating for us. I really don’t need to hear the company position. You need to be thinking about how it can get covered not telling us why it can’t be,” Roberts said.
To have the insurance company changing course after Washington County was declared a disaster area and aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA was likely “does not pass the sniff test,” Roberts said later.
As it stands the constituents in the village of Granville are the ones left bearing the burden, he said.
If the village did have to pay the full amount the insurance company says it owes, Robert said it would look to the state Emergency Finance Corporation for a no-interest loan or possible seek the funds from FEMA.
Edie said Cool would get back to the village with an update in seven to 10 days.
The village has already contacted state Rep. Tony Jordan to notify him of the issue.