County picks new insurance provider

By Justin Boron

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved a new insurance provider for its employment practices and liability coverage because the renewal terms of its previous provider were "non-acceptable."

Katherine Dodson, the county's director of risk management, said Zurich Insurance, its former provider, boosted the cost of insurance in the wake of several claims against Sheriff Victor Hill.

The company's renewal offer, which she said was more "ridiculous" than it was an offer, did not cover elected officials at all. It also raised the county's annual premium by $223,000 and lifted its out-of-pocket expenses in any given claim by $850,000.

The new provider, an AIG company called Lexington, offered the county more protection at lower costs than offered by the county's previous provider, Dodson said.

"It's a whole lot better," she said.

The county's premium will go up by $127,000. But the policy pays a maximum of $7.5 million for any number of claims over the year, which is more than two times the county's previous policy.

The county's new company stopped short of insuring the sheriff under the same terms as other employees.

For claims against Hill, the county is on the line for double, or $500,000, the out-of-pocket expenses that the county would pay for any of its employees.

Hill said he isn't the first sheriff to be sued and faulted County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell for exacerbating the current claims against him.

"Bell is trying to blame me," he said. "He's at fault filing a lawsuit against the county.

"The claims you see there are not uncommon."