Redondo Beach : Less and Less Coverage Costs More and More

Despite complaints by several of its members that the city was being "held hostage" by insurance companies, the City Council on Tuesday approved a liability insurance policy for the coming year that will cost taxpayers six times as much as last year for about one-third of the coverage.

Under the policy with Planet Insurance Co., the city will pay $482,000 for $5 million in coverage. The policy includes a $400,000 deductible for each incident. Last year, the city paid $82,000 for $15 million in coverage with a $100,000 deductible.

"The municipal liability insurance crisis has arrived in Redondo Beach," said City Manager Timothy Casey, who recommended approval of the policy. "Our experience certainly does not seem to justify the increase we have been quoted."

Casey said the city has had no claims against it in the last five years that went above the $100,000 deductible. One lawsuit, however, stemming from an automobile accident in the late 1970s on Inglewood Avenue, resulted in a $3.6-million judgment against the city, he said. The judgment is being appealed.

The council flirted with the idea of rejecting the new policy and "going bare," meaning that the city would put money in an interest-bearing account and insure itself. Casey said Torrance, which has been unable to find an insurer, will probably take that route.

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