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County cuts insurance costs

PRINCETON — Bureau County will save more than $100,000 in insurance premiums during the next three years for its property, liability and workman’s comp coverage.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Insurance Committee Chairman Mike Kohr presented two bids for the board’s consideration, both of which he said would result in a monetary savings for the county.

Bureau County is currently paying a premium of $291,563, for its property, liability and workman’s comp coverage through CIRMA, which is a protected self-insurance risk management program that is county-owned and county-managed. The bids presented at Tuesday’s board meeting were $229,950 from CIRMA, which is based in Itasca, and $249,929 from Diamond Brothers of Princeton, representing ICRMT.

Bureau County has a long history with both companies, Kohr said. The insurance committee had discussed at length the merits of both bids, before voting 3 to 2 to recommend the county board accept the CIRMA bid, he said.

Following Kohr’s recommendation, board member Mike Maynard, also a member of the Insurance Committee, expressed his concerns about the CIRMA bid and explained why he would be voting against the recommendation.

For one thing, CIRMA is an assessed insurance program, whereas Dimond Brothers is not, Maynard said. There is level of risk for Bureau County with CIRMA because it is an assessed program, he said.

Explaining an assessed program, Kohr said there are 15 counties in the CIRMA insurance pool. If there was a catastrophic loss which could not be covered by CIRMA’s reserves, the company could assess participating counties a portion for its share to cover the additional costs. In talking with CIRMA, the eight-year-old company has never once even come close to approaching that coverage limit. It’s in the realm of possibility, but not probable, Kohr said.

Giving another reason to go with the Dimond Brothers’ bid, Maynard said he thinks the county should go with the local business when the bid numbers are so close. Sometimes the low bid is not really the low bid, he said.

After further discussion, the board voted 15 to 9 to accept the CIRMA bid. Voting against the motion were Maynard, Ralph Anderson, Joe Bassetti, Tom Giordano, Bob McCook, Dan Rabe, Jim Thompson, Loretta Volker and Derek Whited. Absent were Rob Pozzi and Tom Ptasnik.

After the decision, Kohr thanked the Insurance Committee for its extra work in doing the research instead of hiring an outside consultant, which would have cost the county several thousand dollars.

Kohr also thanked CIRMA and Dimond Brothers for their competitive bids and Bureau County Clerk Kami Hieronymus for taking on the insurance reconciliation work for the county. He also thanked county department heads and employees for lowering the incident rate year after year, which helps brings down the premium rate.

With the lower premium costs and the county handling reconciliation work in-house, the county will save $210,339 during the next three years, Kohr said.

In addition to the Insurance Committee, Board Chairman Dale Anderson also thanked Kohr for his leadership as chairman of the committee.

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