BROCKTON – Ryan Craig, registered insurance broker and lawyer, and Dave Eccles, registered insurance broker, CMR Insurance, addressed council on the matter of facility user solution insurance coverage.
The matter first came before council in May, at which time council considered a report by the director of community services on a proposal to implement a facility user solution insurance program. A resolution to implement the program was defeated.
Coun. James Lang made a notice of motion to reconsider the proposal. When it came before council Nov. 15, the result was quite different, in a large part due to additional information provided. Council voted to reconsider the matter, and then successfully secured the two-thirds majority necessary to pass the original resolution.
As stated in a report by Trish Serratore, chief financial officer, Frank Cowan offers this additional coverage to its municipal clients. It’s quite common; many area municipalities offer this insurance to facility users.
Craig explained the additional coverage looks after the interests of all parties. The injured party has compensation available. The at-fault user group is protected. He noted even if there’s no liability, defending an action can cost a lot. The municipality, i.e. the taxpayers are protected if a claim arises, since without this additional insurance, the master policy would be affected. In Brockton, the deductible on the master policy is $10,000, and it takes only a couple of claims to trigger a significant rate increase.
“It (the additional coverage) keeps claims off the master policy,” he said.
Craig said the only time the municipality’s master policy would be involved would be if there were some kind of outside liability, for example, an injury caused by a hole in the floor.
He added that it’s cost-effective, at $3 to $15 per hour compared to a couple of hundred dollars for a group to provide its own insurance. It’s easy administratively and could be seen as an added service instead of an expense.
User groups that have their own insurance coverage wouldn’t have to use it – this type of insurance is designed for users that don’t have their own insurance.
Craig said the municipality could opt to subsidize certain groups.
Lang said when he brought the proposal forward in May, there was a lot of talk about an additional fee. He noted that a member of the recreation doing their own research discovered that finding their own insurance is time-consuming and expensive.
Coun. Tim Elphick expressed caution about imposing extra costs on certain groups. Not all would be able to afford the extra insurance.
Craig advised caution, too, noting that “trips and falls” are very common, and very risky for uninsured users.
“There is a cost,” he said, “but there is value to the user group.”
Eccles added that there’s an assumption that if a user group gets sued, the municipality’s insurance protects them; that’s not the case.
Coun. Kym Hutcheon noted, “This will be a great convenience … stress-free, for a few dollars.”
Although some councillors found the additional information enough for a vote in favour of the additional insurance, not everyone agreed. Coun. Steve Adams said he was “against imposing an unnecessary expense on chess clubs.”
Elphick, too, was not in favour, calling it “an additional recreation tax.”
Mayor Chris Peabody mentioned an incident from the past, a slip and fall, and said he would support the additional insurance.
When the insurance program was put to the vote, it got the required two-thirds majority.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times