Lack of Liability Insurance Shutters Police Dept. in Louisiana Town

November 21, 2013

With the end of the Sorrento Police Department’s liability insurance coverage just a few hours away, the Town Council voted 5-0 to select an offer by Louisiana’s Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley to provide protection to the town at no cost through Dec. 31.

Although Tuesday night’s decision effectively shuts down the Sorrento Police Department, Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr., said he agreed 100 percent with the sheriff’s plan.

The Advocate reports the police department’s three other officers have already resigned and a fourth is out on worker’s compensation.

The town’s former insurance provider, Risk Management Inc., informed officials in an Oct. 21 letter it was canceling its liability insurance coverage for the Police Department and the department’s vehicles effective midnight Nov. 19, citing the department’s excessive number of claims.

The Police Department scrambled to find a company that would provide coverage but only received one quote: a $67,692 annual liability insurance policy from Beard Insurance & Financials, of Baton Rouge. Risk Management had charged the town $30,000 annually for its insurance, Lambert has said.

The only other option initially available was to turn police protection over to the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office at a cost of $37,521 for six weeks from Nov. 19 through Dec. 31.

Wiley said he decided he wanted to give town officials another option that would allow them additional time to receive more insurance quotes.

With Sorrento poised to expand due to industrial and commercial growth, businesses “have to know this is a safe town,” Wiley said. “I’m going to offer the same service through the calendar year and I will do it on your tax monies that you pay me.”

Further police protection after the new year will have to be negotiated if town officials want it, Wiley said.

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