The Norman Transcript

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July 1, 2014

Commissioner raises concerns over insurance coverage

NORMAN — A Cleveland County commissioner on Monday formally objected to the county’s participation in a self-insurance group with the Association of County Commissioners because he’s not sure it’s really an insurance policy the county is buying.

Commissioner Rusty Sullivan, District 3, voted against the $355,595 payment for property and casualty insurance. Commissioners Rod Cleveland and Darry Stacy voted in favor of the resolution, which was delayed from last week’s meeting.

In approving the resolution, commissioners asked to pay the premium monthly instead of all at once or semi-annually. The premium is a 17 percent increase over the previous year.

Sullivan said the commissioner association’s Self Insurance Group does not report its financials to the state Insurance Department as other insurers are required to do. Additionally, two pending lawsuits have challenged the group’s non-payment of claims.

One is from Delaware County and one from Custer County. In one state court lawsuit, the trial court held that the SIG was acting as an insurance company. That appeal is pending before the state Supreme Court.

“My true concern is that Cleveland County be adequately covered,” said Sullivan, who worked in the insurance industry before being elected to the commission in 2006. “I have a fiduciary responsibility to the people of Cleveland County to get a real insurance company that abides by state laws.”

Sullivan said he had been asking for details on the coverage since he came into office. Most of the state’s counties are insured through the fund, with workers’ compensation coming from a separate fund administered by the association. Cleveland County has used the fund since its inception in 1986.

He said Cleveland County paid $303,099 in premiums to the ACCO Self Insurance Group and $290,584 for workers’ compensation insurance in the fiscal year that ended Monday. For property claims in fiscal year 2014, the county paid out $109,649 in claims and ACCO paid none.

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