The Mingo County Commission spent more than a half an hour discussing an insurance claim denied by their new carrier for an event that happened on the first day the new policy went into effect.

On July 1, a heavy rain event created a leak in the Memorial Building/Courthouse Annex that became a serious problem, according to Commission Liaison Tina Lockard. The amount of rain coming into the building required workers to purchase additional shop vacs to remove the water and caused damage to the building’s elevator.

Lockard said the claim sent to the insurance company was for approximately $10,000 for the elevator repairs, new ceiling tiles, labor costs and other supplies and equipment needed for the cleanup.

During last week’s Mingo County Commission meeting, the incident and the denial letter was discussed by Lockard, members of the commission, Mingo County Grant Writer and Project Coordinator Leigh Ann Ray and representatives of City Insurance — which underwrites the policy for Travelers.

“The guy who put the roof down did not put it around the drain and did not attach the rubber roofing to the facia,” said George Poole, owner of City Insurance. “The guy obviously did not do the job right.”

However, Ray later countered Poole’s assessment, saying the roof was inspected.

“We were told (the contractor) had done an excellent job,” Ray said.

“His insurance company needs to pay for it,” Poole said and suggested the commission send the claim to that company.

Commissioner Diann Hannah said that is the process she though had happened.

“I though we had filed a claim with the contractor’s insurance and was denied. That was why I raised such a ruckus,” Hannah said. “That would have been my first contact. His insurance says they will cover his workmanship. And, clearly, if he had done the job correctly, we wouldn’t have water running down that wall.”

Lockard said the standard — and that has been followed for 20 years — is to file claims with the county’s insurance company first. If it believes the claim is because of someone else’s negligence, then they will address the situation with that person’s insurance company.

 Assistant County Prosecutor Tom Ward told the insurance representatives that their reason presented to the commission did not match the reason detailed in the denial letter.

“The reason on the denial letter and what you are telling us was the reason for the denial are two different things,” Ward said. “You are telling us the denial is because the contractor to put on the new roof didn’t do it properly. The letter says nothing about maintenance. It says the denial is based on the fact that the water got in without damage to the roof or the exterior structure.

“It was a reasonable expectation of this commission, when it took out the policy, to protect itself from this type of damage,” he continued. “The water got in the building. That should be covered. If (the insurance company) thinks it was caused by somebody else — then go after them.”

Based on a recommendation by Ward, Commission President Thomas Taylor made a motion to send the county’s insurance company, Travelers, a letter challenging the denial and asking it for a retraction on the previous decision. The motion also included directions for Ward to send letters to the contractor and his insurance company advising them of the situation.

The motion passed without dissent.

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