The City Council has denied an insurance company’s claim for $708.84 it paid for damages done when an officer backed a police cruiser into an unoccupied car belonging to a policyholder.
The action was taken Monday after the council hotly debated whether the company should have appeared before the council; whether it should have obtained three bids for the work; and whether the city should reimburse an insurance company at all.
“They accepted that premium. They accepted that risk,” argued Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon.
Solomon said the council works “on behalf of the people” and that the company, USAA Insurance of San Antonio, should absorb the amount.
“How do we know it was $708.84?” asked Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson about the cost to repair the damage.
“Let them submit three estimates, too,” he said.
While not strictly followed, the practice is that the council requires a minimum of three bids when paying for services and equipment. Solomon also cited the practice of having claimants appear before the council, adding it would have probably cost the insurance company more than its claim to send someone here from Texas.
“We have never held that as a standard, to have them appear,” countered Ward 1 Councilman Steve Colantuono.
Ward 8 Councilman Joseph Gallucci questioned Solomon’s reasoning that the council should deny the claim on the basis that the insurance company assumed the risk when it wrote the policy. He asked, what if USAA refuses to write policies for Warwick residents.
“This is the city’s responsibility,” he said of the claim.
Ward 5 Councilman Edgar Ladouceur discounted the argument that the insurance company had failed to have a representative at the meeting.
“For me,” he said, “it’s not the fact they’re not here, but that we don’t have three bids,” he said.
The vote to deny the claim was 5-3, with Ward 9 Councilman Steve Merolla abstaining.