Tulare Cemetery beats the clock, gains new insurance coverage

Editors Note: The Valley Voice has just been informed today, November 2, that the Golden State Insurance policy has not been signed and will not go into effect until November 11, 2021. 

After being dropped by their insurer, the Tulare Public Cemetery District voted on October 28 to accept a new insurance policy offered by the Golden State Risk Management Authority. The new policy is expected to take effect today, November 1.

The district was previously insured by Allied World Specialty Insurance before the company chose to cancel the district’s coverage for “willful or grossly negligent acts which materially increase the risk(s) insured,” according to a notice. Although the policy was initially cancelled as of August 31, district officials were able to negotiate an extension of coverage through October 31.

Out of twelve companies contacted, only Golden State submitted a complete proposal, district manager Clara Bernardo said. Two others submitted partial proposals. Although the board fully reviewed the Golden State proposal, the rapidly approaching deadline and lack of interest meant there was little debate to have — the district could not function without an insurance policy in place.

“We are working against the clock,” said Xavier Avila, the district’s board chair.

Upon signing, the district will need to pay approximately $41,652 to finish out the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, and $65,000 annually starting on July 1, 2022.

That cost is significantly more than the district’s old policy — $18,000 per year — because the new policy includes workman’s compensation benefits bundled in. Approximately $30,000 of the $65,000 premium costs are dedicated to workman’s compensation.

Taking out workman’s compensation the policy is about double the price of their previous policy.

Avila said that he was happy with the new policy. “When comparing everything it’s really a good deal,” he said, noting that the policy included $50m in coverage compared to $1-3m from their prior insurer.

“It’s not cheap, I agree,” said Trustee Steve Presant.

He added that the new company understands cemetery districts.

“They are an outfit that works with you and don’t just send a mean letter canceling you. They stay involved,” said Avila.

Golden State would not lock the district into a three year rate; Avila saw this as a positive item — leaving open the potential for a rate reduction — while Trustee Alberto Aguilar saw it a potential liability.

Golden State had a list of requirements for the district to complete, some of which the district already has, before the company will agree to locking in a rate.

“If they like what they see they could reduce [the] rates,” Avila said.

Aguilar felt that Golden State didn’t want to lock in a rate because they most likely intend to raise their premiums, possibly before the next fiscal year.

Presant reminded the board that insurance rates are only going up.

During public comment Tulare activist Alex Gutierrez asked why TPCD did not receive more bids.

Avila blamed the insurance situation on the Valley Voice‘s coverage of the cemetery district.

“With all of the negative coverage of us, the negative publicity about us – the Valley Voice – and I say very badly written and biased articles by the Valley Voice over and over again, it makes other insurance companies scared ….. I can assume it is the publicity. I could be wrong but they don’t want to touch us,” he said.

The trustees voted 4-1 to accept Golden State’s bid with Aguilar voting no.

 

 

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