PARIS — Officials say the town’s new insurance provider is an affordable upgrade in the event of a costly legal battle.

At their meeting Monday, selectmen unanimously agreed to a bid of about $45,000 from the Maine Municipal Association for a comprehensive insurance policy, Town Manager Amy Bernard said. That’s about $3,000 more than last year, she said.

Marcus Ballou from MMA said the organization’s niche for only assisting local governments enabled it to offer lucrative insurance deals. 

“It’s all we do,” Ballou said. 

The organization’s nonprofit status and direction under a board comprised of representatives from its member towns mean yearly dividends are returned to the town after three years. 

“We don’t have stockholders. We don’t pay shareholders at the end of the year. Our shareholders are you,” he said.  

Under the plan, Paris doubles its per-incident coverage to $2 million and has no annual cap on the amount MMA will pay to settle legal claims against the town, according to Ballou. 

Swapping insurers is sensible in the unlikely event of a high-cost legal battle, Bernard said.  

“It’s all the federal cases; we violated someone’s civil rights or, God forbid, the Police Department has a wrongful death case, something along those lines,” Bernard said. “We’ve been very fortunate.” 

As part of the insurance policy, the MMA provides loss-prevention representatives who delve into the town’s policies and practices looking for potential problems. 

“We know how municipalities work,” Ballou said. 

In addition, the MMA plan will not charge the town for adding or removing property insurance so long as the value is below $1 million.

“Our baseline, the way we’re designed and crafted, is to keep your costs stable,”  he said.

The bid was the only option reviewed by the board. South Paris-based W.J. Wheeler withdrew its bid after finding they could not adequately cover the town in high-liability cases, Bernard said. 

According to W.J. Wheeler agent Curtis Cole, the company wasn’t able to meet the town’s initial bid deadline. 

Cole said the company is working on another bid, which they hope to submit for consideration by selectmen. 

According to Wheeler’s withdrawn offer, the annual cap for insurance claim payouts was $4 million. 

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