Wichert opts not to renew Wellington’s liability insurance, citing police concerns

By Catherine Gabe - cgabe@civitasmedia.com

Wellington is scrambling to find liability insurance for law enforcement and public officials after its provider announced it will no longer provide coverage.

“This is not a cancellation. They’re not renewing our contract at the expiration,” said council president Guy Wells. “It feels like the same.”

The insurance covers actions of the mayor, six council members, the finance director, and the village manager along with the entire police force where the village might incur liability.

Wichert Insurance of Cuyahoga Falls provides comprehensive coverage right now for the village.

But Wells said the company doesn’t want to continue to take the risk with liability claims because of previous lawsuits, which were related to personnel decisions within the police department.

Steve Pyles, village manager, declined to comment on the nature of those lawsuits.

“Our insurance is fairly tricky,” Pyles said. “We have a large reservoir and while it’s considered a great asset for storing water, fishing, and recreation there’s a potential risk in insuring that.”

He also said some of the issue stems from national trends with police shootings. “The whole issue has become so visible nationally that there’s a liability that comes along with that,” he said.

“We are current and we will not let it lapse,” said finance director Karen Shaw at last week’s village council finance committee meeting.

“We’re looking and talking with other insurance companies,” Pyles said. The village may get quotes on full packages or “we may have to buy pieces and parts.”

Wellington has until Feb. 28 to secure liability coverage. “It may cost us more. That has yet to be determined,” Pyles said.

Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @ReporterGabe on Twitter.

By Catherine Gabe