Shaftsbury chooses VLCT for insurance

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SHAFTSBURY — The Select Board has chosen the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to provide municipal insurance services, representing a break from the local firm the town has worked with for years.

The decision came two weeks after representatives from VLCT's Property and Casualty Intermunicipal Fund (PACIF), which is based in Montpelier, and Wills Insurance on South Street in Bennington, which has been part of The Richards Group since July 2016.

Select Board Chairman Tim Scoggins said that the municipal insurance contract, as with many other major contracts, is put out to bid every five years.

"Insurance is no exception, even though for quite a few years, certainly as long as I've been here and think for decades, we've been with Wills Insurance and had really good service with them," he said. "We put it out to bid when I first came onto the board in 2013, and the only other competition is VLCT's PACIF program, which just about every other town in Vermont participates in."

In 2013, Scoggins said, the board made the decision that Wills was still giving the town the better deal. This time, however, he said, the difference wasn't quite as pronounced. "This year, by the time we compared apples to apples and got the same level of coverage from both insurers, they're both around $50,000 per year. The difference really comes down to the extras we get with PACIF."

"They offer a scholarship program with courses different people can attend," said Town Administrator David Kiernan, running down some of the benefits offered by the PACIF program. "They have a grant program that can reimburse us up to $2,500 a year for a whole number of things, including backup cameras for the trucks, backup alarms, a whole variety of things. Traffic cones, anything you can think of, they'll do that." He said PACIF also hosts trainings around the state that are free for members.

"They are worthwhile, they're good training courses," he said.

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According to the VLCT, "The VLCT Property and Casualty Intermunicipal Fund (PACIF), established in 1986, provides broad coverage - including workers' compensation, property, automobile, crime, general liability, public officials' liability, law enforcement liability, and employment practices liability - in one convenient package. PACIF also offers members an array of no-additional-fee risk management and best practices support."

With more than 335 members it is now the leading provider of Property/Casualty and Workers' Compensation coverage to Vermont municipal entities and special service districts. Scoggins said on Monday that Shaftsbury is the only municipality that Wills covers.

At the previous board meeting, the VLCT-PACIF presentation was delivered by Larry Smith and Frank Satink. "We exist solely to benefit our municipal members," said Satink. "We are owned and governed by, essentially, your peers, muncipal managers, administrators, select board members, treasurers, clerks, etc. All of our services and coverages are designed with municipalities in mind, and so I think it's important to spend some time and make sure you're comfortable and understand the value of the programs we would be offering you."

"The League is a well-organized organization, there's no doubt," said David Newell, Richards risk management consultant during his own presentation. "The decision you have, to some extent, might be based on the fact that you want some local representation, which we do offer. We don't have all the bells and whistles that they have, but we hope that our insurance program touches most of the major bases for you."

"This insurance company with VLCT sounds outstanding," said board member Joe Barber. "They are offering us a lot, hands down more than anyone else can offer. But at the same time I wouldn't discount or discredit Wills Insurance when it comes to performance."

The motion to award VLCT the contract was agreed 3-0-0. Board members Art Whitman and Tony Krulikowski were not present.

To learn more about PACIF, visit vlct.org.

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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