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Changes in earthquake coverage cost county

Changes to earthquake coverage have left St. Francois County with less property insurance coverage than the total worth of buildings and assets.

Laura Laramore, with First State Insurance, presented the county with three quote for insurance. The old provider, Fire United, was offering a property insurance policy that included just $1 million for earthquake damages.

The county had been insuring its property for up to $22 million.

Earthquake insurance policies have become more restrictive and expensive in recent years, according to the Missouri Department of Insurance.

“The premium is up considerably this year,” Laramore said. “The current quote is for $45,750, about $11,500 difference.”

Laramore also brought comparison quotes from two other insurance companies, Moperm and Chubbs.

Moperm, which writes the county’s casualty insurance, offered up to $100 million in earthquake damages, but that amount would be split among all members of Moperm with earthquake coverage. The annual premiums would be about the same as Fire United, but in the event of a quake, the shared coverage could leave the county with far less than $10 million for rebuilding, Laramore said.

The third proposal, from Chubb Insurance Company, is a $33,547 annual premium and included some services the county has not had in the past, such as coverage for immediately setting up a temporary working headquarters.

The earthquake coverage is $12 million, which still leaves the county about $10 million short of what they were covering.

The policy is expiring May 31, so Commissioners had to select a policy at the Tuesday session. Associate Commissioner Bret Burgess expressed some disapproval that he and Commissioner Patrick Mullins had not been informed of the situation sooner.

Laramore said they should have received letters notifying them about the policy changes from Fire United before now. However, with Presiding Commissioner Dr. David Cramp absent, the two associate commissioners weren’t sure if they had just not seen the materials.

Burgess and Mullins decided to go ahead and approve the policy with Chubb and requested that Laramore obtain quotes for additional earthquake coverage as a standalone supplement.

Laramore agreed that this would be a good idea to look at, but added the coverage is very expensive on its own.

“Of course no one ever wants to look at insurance until something happens,” Burgess said. “We may not buy it, but I think we should look at it.”

On other matters, commissioners announced the Big River Watershed meeting is from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the North College Center on the Mineral Area College Park Hills campus. A draft of the Big River Master Plan will be reviewed.

Harold Gallagher said the group had had a meeting with 19 people from various agencies last Thursday and that he was pleased with the response to what the group has written so far. “They had obviously reviewed the writings and the responses were that’s being reviewed, and we’re revisiting these numbers,” he said. “It was very heartening. We were definitely respected.”

Commissioners waived interest and penalty for Tom Snead, who said he had not received a property tax bill for one of several properties and didn’t realize the omission until now.

Renee Jean can be reached at 573-431-2010 ext. 117 or

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