The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 22, 2013

Council asked to re-evaluate insurance

By Scott Levine
Associate Editor

CLINTON — Chris Vens wants the opportunity to offer a new insurance carrier to the city of Clinton.

But, as has been the case during Vens’ last three proposals, City Council members will review the matter at a later date when City Hall becomes more stable. More specifically, when a new city administrator is hired.

Vens, president of Core-Vens Insurance, on Tuesday asked for a bidding process in regard to city insurance during the Internal Operations Committee meeting. In 2011, he requested the opportunity to provide a proposal for the city’s insurance.

The IOC discussed in April 2011 about possibly looking at the marketplace and seeing what else is available.

Former Human Resources Director David Geisler suggested the committee may want to see what else is available, but the committee chose to stay with the current coverage.

Vens again approached the Council in 2012, and was told because of the multitude of lawsuits facing the city, they would not consider a change at the time.

With some of those lawsuits being settled, Vens returned, asking the city to put its insurance coverage out for bid.

At-Large Councilman John Rowland didn’t want to put an added burden on Interim City Administrator Jessica Kinser in developing a Request For Proposal for insurance coverage.

“I’m not disregarding your request,” Rowland said. “But it’s prudent for the Council to get that (city administrator) position filled.”

Vens wanted the city to look at different options for insurance, referencing the EMS billing lawsuit the city settled in 2010 for $4.5 million. According to Vens, he has examined insurance coverage options from two of his carriers that would have defended the city in the suit.

The coverage would not have covered the settlement, but the coverages would have given the ability to defend if the fraud was not proven or admitted. The city’s current coverage did not cover the city’s defense costs.

“As a citizen and business owner, when I feel there is an extreme deficiency in coverage, I believe someone should bring something up,” Vens said.

However, Julie Bray, the city’s insurance agent through the Iowa Communities Assurance Pool, believes coverage options proposed through Core-Vens would bid a lower price one year, and then increase that price the next year.

The committee discussed those concerns in 2011 when discussing altering the coverage.

“I consider myself the bodyguard of the city,” Bray said. “I think we’re on the climb out of this mess.

“You have to trust me. I will do what’s in the best interest of the city.”

ICAP offers property and liability coverage to public entities and special districts. There are currently 660 Iowa entities within the pool.

“I just want the opportunity for the city to get the best pricing possible because of the bid process,” Vens said.

Rowland said he would like to look at some specifications and review the coverage options to see if Clinton is adequately covered. When a new city administrator is hired, Rowland would like that person to review insurance options.