Car insurance companies face billing for fluids cleanup

Office space to be leased for undercover cops

Motor vehicle insurance companies will now have to pay money to Clayton County every time a car they insure is involved in an accident in the county.

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to change the county’s fire prevention and protection code to allow the county to bill insurance companies for the cleanup of car fluids spilled during a motor vehicle accident. These fluids often contain hazardous chemicals, which fire officials have to remove from the site of the accident.

Commissioners also voted unanimously to hire Roseville, Calif.-based Fire Recovery USA, LLC, to handle the billing. Commissioner Michael Edmondson was not present at the meeting.

“If we go out, and there’s fluids leaking from a vehicle as a result of a motor vehicle crash, or a car fire ... we’re now able to bill the insurance companies for the cleanup,” said Clayton County Fire Chief Jeff Hood.

A request form, for the hiring of Fire Recovery USA, states that the billing of insurance companies for fluid cleanup could generate as much as $25,000 per month in additional revenues for the county.

Hood explained that insurance companies would have to pay varying rates for cleanups, with the rates based upon the severity of the spill. Costs to insurance companies would range from $400, per hour, to $5,900, per hour — depending upon the type of response and cleanup needed. The fire chief said Fire Recovery USA is set up to know which rate it should charge the insurance companies.

“There’s money out there to be recouped for services provided by fire services [departments],” Hood said. The contract with Fire Recovery USA stipulates that 80 percent of the money collected from the insurance companies will go to the county.

The fire chief said the change was being made to generate more revenue at a time when other revenue sources, such as property taxes, are shrinking. He also said the billing of insurance companies for fluids cleanup is an emerging trend among fire departments.

“It is kinda new to the industry,” Hood said. He added, “We’ve been told to look at revenue enhancement for the county, and this is one of the things that I’ve looked at.”

In other action, commissioners also unanimously voted to allow the Clayton County Police Department to lease office space at an undisclosed location. County Police Chief Greg Porter said the office space will be used by undercover narcotics officers, but he added the “covert” location is being kept secret for the protection of the officers.

A county request form shows that “forfeited drug money” will be used to pay for the renting of the office space. Porter declined to comment further on the leasing of the office space, out of concern for officer safety.