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County insurance rate declines
Safety measures pegged as reason for drop
new deh county commission main pic
Barton County Road and Bridge Department personnel participate in the annual practice using a skid steer loader during the snow rodeo on Oct. 31 where they prepared for winter weather and brushed up on safety. Such training has helped lower the countys insurance premiums. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commisison:
• Approved renewal of member to the Kansas Association of Counties. Based on a calculation that includes a base fee, population and valuation, the 2015 dues are $5,969.02. The Association sponsors the annual KAC Conference, various educational meetings throughout the year and lobbies the state and federal level on behalf of Kansas counties. KAC will also assist counties with budgeting, surveys and legislative efforts upon request. 
• Approved renewal of member in the Kansas Legislative Policy Group at a cost of $4,652.90. The KLPG is a bi-partisan coalition of western Kansas counties with the common interests, particularly oil and natural gas production. It serves as a policy and decision making body establishing legislative priorities at its annual meeting and providing speakers to address KLPG members about the important topics of the day.
The group has been instrumental in making sure Barton County has received its share of the Oil and Gas Depletion Fund, money that has totalled nearly $2 million.
• Heard an update on county departmental activities from County Administrator Richard Boeckman.

Due in large part to a safe working environment for Barton County employees, the county’s insurance rate for 2015 will drop more than $8,000 compared to 2014, the Barton County Commission learned Monday morning.
“That’s a pretty substantial decrease,” said Cassidy Smith of Alliance Insurance, the county insurance agency. Last year’s rate was $238,851 and for this year, it will be $230,165.
While there were variances in property, liability and auto, the biggest change was in the reduction in the cost of workers’ compensation insurance, Smith said. Safety training and the pre-employment Work Fit program have made a big difference.
“It starts at the top and works down,” Smith said. Supervisors encourage safety and the personnel take pride in being careful.
At the heart of the drop was the improvement in the county’s workers’ comp experience modification or mod rate. This is an annual premium adjustment made by insurance companies based on previous loss experience, usually looking back at the last three years.
This rate went down from .75 to .64, Smith said. “This low of a mod rate is unheard of for an organization like this.”
Other insurance policy changes included: An increase in deductible property coverage from $1,000 $2,500 for the county’s over $20 million in property (this is per occurrence, so if all of the buildings get damaged in a storm, there is only one deductible paid); an increase in the automobile deductible from $500 to $1,000; and the addition of a data compromise policy that covers the county should its computer system get hacked up to $50,000 for county employees and taxpayers.
On a related note, it was noted that over the past five years, the county has received over $159,000 in dividend checks due to the county’s participation in the Kansas County Safety Dividend Group with EMC Insurance Companies. Annual payments have been around $30-40,000.
There are 32 Kansas counties that insure with EMC Insurance Companies are part of the group. EMC Insurance provides property and casualty insurance coverage based upon each individual county’s needs.
All these premiums go into a pool and if the program is profitable, then the participating counties get a refund, Smith said.