Avoyelles Police Jury rejects low bid on insurance

Issue will be reconsidered at Dec. 6 meeting


   A Marksville insurance agent said he agreed to submit a bid to provide insurance to the Avoyelles Police Jury because parish officials said the jury  needs to save money. Instead, Mike DeSoto of 1st Insurance Marksville said his proposal was thrown out even though it was almost $16,000 lower than the only other bid.
   The Police Jury disqualified DeSoto’s bid because it did not meet the specifications in the request for proposals. However, after DeSoto questioned that  decision, Police Jury President Charles Jones said the insurance issue will be reconsidered at the jury’s December meeting.
    DeSoto contends his one-page proposal met all specifications in the bid packet he received. The proposal submitted by  the jury’s current insurer, Dupree-Godchaux-Carrier of Opelousas, was much thicker.
  1st Insurance’s overall proposal was $102,046 to provide insurance for the parish’s auto, equipment and property coverage. Dupree’s was $117,937.
   Sadie Durand, representing Dupree, immediately objected to DeSoto’s bid at a bid-opening meeting prior to the jury’s regular monthly meeting on Nov. 8.
   She said the bid did not meet specifications because it obviously did not include a listing of all properties, equipment and vehicles to be covered.
  DeSoto argued that his bid reflects insurance on all property, equipment and vehicles contained in the packet he received from the Police Jury. He said he does not see the need to give the Police Jury its own booklet of covered items to accompany his bid proposal.
  After the bid opening, Jones said the jury would take the bids under advisement and have District Attorney Charles Riddle review them to ensure they comply with state law and the bid specifications.
Jury Secretary/Treasurer Jamey Wiley noted that 1st Insurance’s proposal did not include the name of the insurance company through which coverage would be provided, so the parish could not verify the rating of the company.
   DeSoto said the bid specifications did not state the name of the company was required, but said it is Atlantic Specialty Insurance -- an A-rated (excellent) company in the OneBeacon Insurance Group.
Dupree’s coverage is through Traveler’s, which is rated A++ for financial strength by A.M. Best Rating Services.
   When DeSoto was told  the proposal should include a list of all of the insured items, to guarantee that the company would not come back later and add to the insurance price by saying those items were not included in the initial bid, DeSoto said his bid was all inclusive.
Exclamation point
   He put an exclamation point to his statement by saying that if he did come back to the jury to add anything more to his bid price, “I will personally pay your entire premium and the insurance won’t cost you a dime.”
   DeSoto asked if the jury would make a decision that night and was told it was not likely. DeSoto left that meeting and did not stay for the regular meeting. However, Riddle was able to review the insurance proposals prior to the regular meeting. When the item came up on the agenda, Jones asked Riddle for his recommendation.
   Riddle said his review indicated 1st Insurance did not meet bid specifications because it did not list the insurance provider and did not itemize the items to be covered. The jury then awarded the insurance contract to Dupree.
   DeSoto said that prior to submitting a proposal he met with Jamey Wiley to discuss the bid specifications “and I pointed out to them that several of the parish properties were under-valued.” The parish increased its coverage on those properties, the largest being the courthouse -- which had been insured for $2 million and was increased to $6 million.
   The increased coverage amounts were also given to Dupree and factored into its bid. The result is an overall increase of about $7,000 from the current premium.
   DeSoto noted that his proposal provides more coverage for less than the jury is paying now.
“Never bid again”
   “I will never bid again,” DeSoto said the next day, “and this insurance company, Atlantic Specialty, will not bid again. 
   “This is the second time the Police Jury has done this to me,” he continued. “I said last time I wouldn’t deal with them again, but they came to me and asked me to bid because they need to save money.”
   DeSoto said 1st Insurance provides insurance to several municipalities and the School Board in the parish, and has never had the problem it has had with the Police Jury.
   “I spent a lot of time developing that proposal for the Police Jury,” he said. “I don’t have time to waste, so I won’t be doing it again.”