Supervisors vote to increase county insurance coverage

The July 19 tornado — and its devastation — have made the Marshall County Supervisors and others involved in the recovery process re-evaluate the county’s insurance coverage. Because insurance renewal comes due Oct. 1, 2018, the supervisors met Tuesday morning in a special session to vote unanimously to finalize the changes to the insurance policy.

“We increased the coverage on our buildings and facilities by $20 million. We went from $34,576,000 to $54,591,000 and that increased $30 million in blanket coverage; it costs us an additional $14,572 annually, so that’s a huge amount of additional protection for the taxpayers and not a lot of money,” Vice Chairman Dave Thompson said.

The county is insured through Des Moines-based EMC insurance. Bobby Shomo, president of Shomo-Madsen Insurance in Marshalltown, is the county’s insurance agent. At the special session he outlined the changes to the policy, which he said would offer the county more peace of mind in the event of another disaster.

For insurance year 2017-2018, the county paid a premium of $288,334.50 and is projected to now pay $342,812.50 (for the 2018-19 insurance year.) The Marshall County Property and Casualty Insurance with Shomo-Madsen Insurance will be effective Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019.

“The big number that none of us like is next year’s premiums compared to the expiring year’s premium,” Shomo said. “It looks like a tremendously large increase; but be reminded, we changed insurance providers (nine months into the year) to IMWCA (Iowa Municipal Workers Compensation Association) for our work comp, so (a year’s-long monetary figure) would actually have been closer to $320,000. So what we’re looking at for this year is a $24,000 to $25,000 increase over last year, primarily tied into property (insurance).”

Shomo said having blanket coverage will allow insurance funds to be available to any county building that ever is damaged in the future.

“We are looking to significantly increase the blanket coverage on our property, from this perspective alone: if that tornado had just been a bit south and hit the (Marshall County) jail on the way in, and we had damage to the jail and courthouse, I would have been a bit frausted with our limits,” Shomo said. “I wouldn’t have imagined we’d be looking at an in excess of $40 million claim at the county; it is plenty of coverage to get through this storm, but all of us recognized coming out of (the experience), we want to have a bit more blanket coverage in case we take a direct hit on multiple buildings next time.”

Shomo told the supervisors he recommends having the Marshall County Courthouse’s monetary value re-evaluated.

“I asked EMC to move the courthouse to $30 million stand-alone (value) and I’m basing that on an evaluation I had through Jasper County and their courthouse,” he said. “I still think that number is low, so I’m working with EMC to get a company to give us a better estimate of what replacement costs would actually be if we lost the courthouse.”

The courthouse previously was insured for just under $11 million.

Shomo said it is likely to take EMC insurance around 15 years (in premium costs) to pay themselves back on the cost of repairs to Marshall County facilities.

The next Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting is set for 9 a.m. Oct. 2 on the second floor of the Great Western Bank Building, 11 N. First Ave.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at (641) 753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com