Insurance ‘racket’ irritates Parish Council members

Published 12:15 am Saturday, February 17, 2018

LAPLACE — Following Parish Council members’ public calls of a scam and misinformation, St. John administrators said they would produce a cost benefit analysis of combining insurance rates for local firefighters and other Parish employees under one umbrella policy.

During this week’s Parish Council meeting, present members unanimously renewed the group health insurance policy for the Office of Fire Services, awarded group dental insurance and renewed the paid firefighters’ group life insurance.

Despite the approval, there was concern from multiple members, with Councilman Lennix Madere Jr. suggesting the Council was unintentionally misled in approving similar agreements a few years ago for the rest of the Parish’s employees.

“When we made that decision we were under the belief it was all parish employees, including the firefighters,” Madere said. “Now we find out that is not the case.

“It doesn’t cost us anything to go out and look to see if there is someone out there that can put it all together and give us a lower rate, which would benefit the parish, not just individuals.”

Parish Councilman Marvin Perrilloux suggested to administrators the more employees under a policy, the better rate possible.

“We are constantly having all of these individual policies and all of these individual premiums; it’s ridiculous to me,” Perrilloux said.

“I still say we are paying an enormous (rate) for insurance when we can have one umbrella policy for the D.A.’s office, the assessor’s office and the firefighters. It would be cheaper than paying all of these individual (rates) to insurance.”

Perrilloux said he thought the insurance industry serving St. John was “a racket” — a phrase echoed by Madere — before adding that seeking more quotes from insurance companies could lead to a bidding war to the benefit of local residents.

Parish President Natalie Robottom said administrators would be “happy” to research an insurance comparison while also seeking company presentations and comparisons from neighboring parishes.

During discussion on the topic this week, Natalie Tatje of Tatje Insurance and Financial Products said quoting systems and underwriting methods used by insurance companies made the separation of firefighters a cost savings benefit to St. John the Baptist Parish.

Tatje said the savings amounted to at least $8,200 a month.

“If you took the firefighters and put them on the parish with the larger group, you are going to pay more in premium and you are probably going to hire another HR department person,” Tatje said. “To address the question of the more people we have the less expensive the insurance will be, that is absolutely false.

“To say if we put the firefighters on our group plan would save you all money, in this particular scenario, no it would not.”