By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Insurance premiums for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent are going up.
At its regular meeting Dec. 6, council voted to enter into a one-year contract with Intact Public Entities to cover its 2022 insurance needs, at a cost of just over $2 million.
It amounts to a 40-per-cent hike over 2021.
South Kent Coun. Anthony Ceccacci put forward an amendment to the original motion calling on the province to undertake a review of “unsustainable insurance premium increases that are putting pressure on municipalities.”
Ceccacci termed the hike “extremely alarming.”
“I’m hearing this throughout the entire municipality,” he told council, adding the hospitality sector has been hard hit.
“I think it’s important that as a municipality we advocate for businesses as well as ourselves.”
The municipality had little choice but to accept the submission, as the one from IPE was the only one received in the request for proposal process, according to Chatham-Kent director of legal services David Taylor.
According to the report from administration, municipal insurance claims were handled externally prior to 2012. However, they were then moved in-house and handled by Chatham-Kent’s legal department.
The Frank Cowan Company has provided the municipality’s insurance coverage since amalgamation in 1998. In 2019 it changed hands becoming Intact Public Entities.
The fact the RFP submission came in late made it difficult for the legal team to reach out to other companies.
The municipality had asked IPE to extend its 2021 coverage to allow staff time to investigate other avenues, but IPE declined.
However, it agreed to pro-rate the premium if another company is found.
Taylor said it was “very frustrating” getting such a significant insurance increase so late in the process that it prohibited other options from being explored.
Ceccacci said it was troubling the numbers were received so late in the game leaving no time for council to adequately consider the proposal.
He said the municipality will keep digging into the issue to try and find better pricing.
Because there were no other offers, Taylor said it was frustrating and his “hands were tied,” and administration had to recommend accepting the solitary offer.
Coun. Mark Authier echoed Ceccacci’s comments, stating the insurance process was “very disturbing overall.”
Taylor said he’s heard there are significant pressures on the insurance industry overall.
Less access and increased premiums across the board may also be part of the problem, Taylor said.