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TBM insurance options continue to narrow

Staff and council consider partnering with other municipalities for group insurance, mayor urges caution for that approach
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With municipal insurance options limited and prices rising, the Town of The Blue Mountains is going to reach out to its neighbours to gauge if there is interest in pursuing a cooperative approach to the issue.

At its committee of the whole meeting on August 9, The Blue Mountains council gave staff permission to negotiate with the town’s current insurance provider AON Reed Stenhouse (AON) to provide coverage for 2023, with the intention of conducting an RFP process in 2023 for insurance services. Council also asked CAO Shawn Everitt to reach out to Grey County and other neighbouring municipalities about the possibility of a cooperative approach to insurance.

Coun. Rob Sampson said at just about every Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference he attends the subject of insurance price and availability comes up as a common problem.

“There has been discussion about a cooperative program to deal with it. Is there interest from other municipalities?” said Sampson.

CAO Shawn Everitt said he is aware that some municipalities have pooled or pursued self-insurance. He said often it’s an upper-tier level of government, like Grey County, that would take the lead on such an initiative.

“That is something we’ll actively and consistently bring forward,” said Everitt. “All CAOs from our area have an interest in it. It’s something we have to keep at the forefront. The number of [insurance] companies is getting smaller and smaller.”

Sampson suggested the CAO write to Grey County and other local municipalities, including neighbours in Simcoe County about the issue.

“We might want to take a look at a regional approach, in case (Grey County) isn’t there,” said Sampson. “I have heard the province might step in. It’s effectively a monopoly now. We need to find a solution to it.”

Mayor Alar Soever warned that the town needed to be careful, as other municipalities may not be matching The Blue Mountains in risk management. The mayor noted that levels of cyber security differ greatly from municipality to municipality and he said it is important that the town doesn’t find itself in a cooperative insurance program where it’s subsidizing others with lower standards.

“There are all kinds of issues that crop up,” said Soever. “If we’re going to pool with other municipalities it’s very important everybody has the same standard of care.”

Council passed a resolution authorizing Everitt to write to other municipalities and Grey County about the insurance issue.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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