Sheriff's cars

Several of the Cullman County Sheriff's Office's vehicles were damaged by hail during the March 19, 2018 storm. 

Direct hits to county property, first from a tornado in 2011 and again from a freakish hail storm in 2018, have contributed to a significant spike in the county’s property insurance rates, compelling the Cullman County Commission to take out a second insurance policy tailored specifically to help defray the new, higher deductible.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the county commission voted unanimously to renew its standing property policy with Travelers Insurance, committing $511,497 to cover the policy’s annual premium — a 10 percent increase over the previous year’s premium.

That slight bump helps manage costs at the expense of an enormous leap in deductible charges, should the county need to invoke the policy for a major event in the coming year. Where last year’s deductible cost only $5,000, next year’s deductible jumps to $500,000 — a 100 percent increase.

In order to make such a cost acceptable and effectively preserve the value of having property insurance for all but the most catastrophic of losses in the first place, the commission approved the purchase of an additional policy through Lloyds of London for wind and hail damage. That policy, which comes with an annual premium of $58,459, reduces the Travelers deductible from $500,000 to $25,000 in the event of covered weather damages.

County Administrator Gary Teichmiller said Tuesday the coming year’s rates are pegged to elevated weather-related risks associated with both the 2011 tornado and last year’s March hail storm. The tornado damaged or destroyed an estimated $4 million of county property; the 2018 hail storm has so far racked up more than $8 million in insurance-covered costs as the county continues to restore damage to both vehicles and buildings.

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