Soaring insurance rates crushing Hastings County municipalities

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Hastings County and its 14 member municipalities are being hit by skyrocketing annual insurance rate increases that divert money from needed services to taxpayers, county councilors said in a virtual meeting on Thursday.

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County council voted to fight skyrocketing costs through written appeals and delegation calling on the government of Ontario and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to intervene in premiums insurance that bleed municipal budgets every year.

Hastings County, for example, saw a 30% increase in annual insurance costs earlier this year, pushing insurance premium spending to $ 877,202 thanks to an increase of 199,436 $.

The massive spikes in insurance for municipalities are in large part due to what the province calls the “joint and several liability” rules imposed by the province on municipalities that must pay part of civil court compensation to victims injured in road crashes. and other incidents, sometimes as high as millions of dollars.

The mayor of Tweed, Jo-Anne Albert, who is a member of the AMO board of directors, raised the question to the county council: “I don’t know if we can help, but our insurance premium… is going. much increase. The government must do something. These insurance rates, some of our small communities in Ontario are going to disappear because of the high cost of insurance.

“If you get a $ 30,000, $ 40,000, or $ 50,000 increase in insurance, that’s a tax increase of 1% or more in some of our communities,” Albert said, noting to fellow council members, “Once you’ve looked at all of your rates, you’re going to hear some pretty scary news.

Warden Rick Phillips said, “It wasn’t that long ago that the Premier of Ontario mentioned joint and several liability and that the province was going to tackle this problem. They did not do it.

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“And that has become another priority for the {Eastern Ontario} Principals’ Caucus with the homeless and many other issues. Joint and several liability fell off the list a bit, but it was added to the directors’ caucus list, ”he said. “We usually have a delegation to AMO, maybe Hastings County wants to propose a delegation to one of the upcoming conferences in person that we can advocate for.”

The mayor of the Hastings Center, Tom Deline, has said the insurance spikes are unacceptable.

“What happened to personal liability here has gone out the window and it’s absolutely terrible. We have to bring some of it back to protect ourselves. I would rather spend some of the money we have to spend at Center Hastings in insurance to fix my roads, our roads, water and sewers and the things we need to do to help people have better lives, ”said Deline.

Jim Pine, Hastings County Deputy Director General, said, “We have made representations to the government and AMO has had this on its agenda for a long time. It is a difficult problem to solve, but we are all really concerned about the rising costs. “

“I think we can continue to push the attorney general and the province to provide some relief, it certainly affects everyone’s operating budgets given the incredible increases,” Pine said.

Sue Horwood, CFO, told the board, “We have a renewal in March, so we haven’t seen the increase this year. We have known the 30 percent [increase] last year and we’re forecasting a budget of 15-17 for this year, so it’s certainly not sustainable at that level.

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