BUCKHANNON — The Thursday City Council meeting began with executive session, out of the ordinary for usual meetings. After, Mayor Robbie Skinner made a comment. “Ladies and gentlemen of council and in the audience, the council entertained an executive session relative to personnel matters. No decisions were made but there could be discussion later on in the meeting but the council has reconvened at 7:25 in its normal and open forum meeting. I appreciate the audience allowing us to have that moment,” said Mayor Skinner.
Mayor Skinner then welcomed recognized guest Jamie Powell, the City of Buckhannon’s insurance agent, who was present to discuss the renewal of policies. Mayor Skinner announced he wanted to move forward with property insurance renewals and liability renewals after Powell’s presentation.
Powell noted, “I am going to start with property renewal, which is done through Westfield Insurance.” Powell continued to state that the renewal premium payment totals $53,989.06. Powell advised the council that the premium had increased by roughly 6% since last year. The Buckhannon Water Plant and Stockert Youth Center contributed to the increase by about $1,900 after an ISO rating change. Powell noted that the inflation has affected the costs and values of property.
With that in mind, Powell revealed that the building values have also increased. “We increased buildings valued at over $100,000 by two percent to consider inflation. Insurance is directly driven by if you have a couple losses, it costs to rebuild,” said Powell. “We are starting to see a lot of insurance carriers take a break on property, so I do believe this is a good increase or rate change as far as the renewal is concerned. Right now, total insured property as far as buildings is at $ 26,418,300 and total insured business property is $1,947,000.”
“I think Jamie hit the highlights and I agree. Unfortunately, we are at a point where insurance follows the building material market. I appreciate the fact that we are keeping up with inflation because we want to have the resources to come back from a catastrophic event,” said Mayor Skinner following the presentation. A first motion to approve property renewal was given my councilman C.J. Rylands and a second by Dave Thomas, with the motion carrying.
Powell then led into the Travelers Insurance liability renewal. “If you look at this policy it covers automobile liability, fire insurance liability, public entity management liability, employee liability, professional liability, general liability and it also covers your equipment and crime,” said Powell. “Liability has been a struggling area just because of the environment and what is going on nationwide.” He noted that over the past four to five years, many insurance agencies have exited the particular market that cover cities because of the increase in claims and costs that cities and counties have had to pay out. Powell spoke highly of Travelers Insurance, saying that despite the nationwide issue, Travelers has not pulled out of offering this section of insurance. With that being said, Powell discussed that the premiums have increased. Powell presented that the highest cost, with Travelers is the automobile coverage. He noted that a lot of costs have been driven up by inflation with an approximate increase of $62 per vehicle that is covered. Powell did note that in the future, it may be beneficial to “shop” for other insurance carriers.
Following the presentation, a first motion to approve was noted by councilman Randy Sanders, with Sheila Sines stating the second motion. The approval carried.