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Monday, September 01, 2014
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Insurance coverage County is in market for broker

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - Updated: 5:34 PM

Insurance coverage County is in market for broker

By NICOLE ANTONUCCI

For the C-S-E

FONDA -- Montgomery County is getting an early start on hiring an insurance broker for next year, through a new process that officials say will ensure fairness and transparency.

Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort issued a request for proposals Monday that seeks insurance brokerage services for 2015.

"We wanted an open process, so we can start early and evaluate a number of proposals to see which would be the best for the county moving forward," Ossenfort said.

He said the county is looking for a qualified broker who can provide services and negotiate on behalf of the county for municipal property, casualty and other insurance.

Ossenfort's RFP was issued two months after the threat of a lawsuit prompted questions about the hiring process for the county's current insurance agent, John Mancini.

Mancini was hired through a resolution by the former board of supervisors in December 2013, without going through an RFP process — as was done in previous years.

While Mancini will continue to provide services for the remainder of the year, Ossenfort said he wants to start a fresh process for next year, and beyond.

"When you talk about a budget item that is more than $500,000 every year, I think taking the time to do our due diligence is something that is more than appropriate," he said.

The RFP process has also changed in that it only includes the broker, who must provide a plan for its insurance program. RFPs in the past would tie the broker to the carrier, Ossenfort said, and as a result, other brokers would be locked out because certain carriers were committed to certain brokers.

According to the RFP, the selected vendor will be expected to provide a comprehensive risk-management program for the county, develop a competitive insurance program, review policies, develop a service strategy to be followed by the insurance carrier, the vendor and the county; provide information and forecasts of changes in the insurance marketplace.

Required services also include administrative assistance, process and settlement of claims, and maximizing financial recoveries in the event of losses or claims.

The RFP also defines the terms of a contract between the two parties. The contract will be for two years, with two possible one-year extensions with mutual consent of the county and the vendor.

This is also new to the process, and appears to address questions of contract rights that were raised by the threat of a lawsuit earlier this year.

In February, Casper Wells, co-owner with Mancini of Hays & Wormuth Inc., wrote a letter to Ossenfort to serve as a notice of claim. A notice of claim has to be filed before someone can sue a local government.

The letter, dated Feb. 5, was addressed to Ossenfort and included two brief paragraphs. It indicated Wells was seeking $500,000 in damages for "breach of contract in connection with awarding of the county's liability insurance coverage effective Jan. 1."

Wells alleged breach of contract, as Hays & Wormuth was not named the carrier for the county's liability insurance by the former board of supervisors late last year.

"We responded to the notice of claim and I responded that the claim didn't have merit," Ossenfort said. "We forwarded it to our insurance carrier to be processed. Since then, I have not been made aware of any lawsuits being filed."

RFPs are due May 28 with an expected award date of Sept. 23. The contract is scheduled to start Oct. 1.

     

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