Insurance authority to train city council on avoiding liability

The Bainbridge Island City Council will hear from the Washington Cities Insurance Authority this Wednesday in a presentation covering city council do's and don'ts.

During the hour-long presentation, council members will learn best practices to avoiding liability. The

discussion will range from maintaining a purely legislative role in the policymaking process to being mindful of written communications in email, and on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The Washington Cities Insurance Authority is a municipal risk insurance pool, and represents 164 cities and public entities.

WCIA staff provides each member city with on-site risk management advice, loss control inspections and trainings on specific issues.

The presentation is timely for new and veteran council members alike as the city is currently fighting a lawsuit involving councilmen Steve Bonkowski and David Ward, who used their personal email accounts last June to discuss city business.

According to a WCIA risk assessment, Bainbridge's history of legal disputes ranks the city one of the most costly communities of its size.

Between 2008 and 2012, the public safety sector of Bainbridge Island incurred $2 million in insurance claims.

The average cost of public safety claims for governments similar in size to Bainbridge is $203,000.

Additionally, Bainbridge's total cost of insurance claims between 2008 and 2012 is $2.7 million, the bulk of which were collected in 2010.

In stark contrast, the total average insurance cost of communities the size of Bainbridge is $700,000.

This has amounted to Bainbridge Island having the highest insurance rate of the 20 cities compared in the risk assessment.

The city currently pays $2.15 per worker hour. Centralia currently pays the lowest rate of the cities included in the risk assessment at $0.09 per worker hour.

The WCIA will discuss Bainbridge Island's risk profile and practices for avoiding liability at 6 p.m. Wednesday in city hall.

This week's regular city council meeting will immediately follow at 7 p.m.

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