Due to an approved insurance claim for hail damage, Ector County could be getting new roofs on three buildings at a fraction of the cost. Ector County commissioners on Monday approved the appropriation of about $750,000 given to the county by their former insurance company, Travelers Insurance, because of hail damage in 2008.
Sam Brijalba, the risk management coordinator for the county, said he was sitting on his porch earlier this year when it started to hail, and that got him thinking about whether the county had coverage for hail. “It’s something that I just wanted to have checked out,” Brijalba said. So investigators for the county’s current insurance provider, OneBeacon, came out and inspected the roofs at the sheriff’s office and the Coliseum, and determined there was hail damage.
However, Brijalba said they also discovered the damage was old and not covered under their current policy. Brijalba said he then contacted Travelers, who sent out their own investigators and they determined there was a hail storm during their time as the county’s insurance provider and that it caused the damage to the roofs of the detention center, the sheriff’s office and the Coliseum. “There was evidence of old hail damage and it may never have been submitted prior to me coming on board (in 2010),” Brijalba said. “If it’s a severe hail storm or damage like that, it’s my job to go ahead and call to get it checked out.” Brijalba said he’s not sure why it wasn’t checked out in 2008, as he was not with the county at that time. The storm was determined to have happened April 9, 2010, and according to previous Odessa American stories, the National Weather Service on that day reported nickel- and quarter-sized hail come through Odessa, as the storm system traveled through Odessa at 60 mph.
Ector County Judge Susan Redford said the money is coming at an opportune time for the county, as she had been trying to figure out for the past several years how to repair or replace the roofs on the Coliseum and the detention center. “It’s a great relief for us,” Redford said. “This really makes that decision much easier.” Redford said at one point they were deciding whether it would be best to split up the project into multiple phases or do it all at once.
Now, it’s mostly a matter of paying the deductibles and hoping the insurance covers the total cost of replacing the roofs, which Redford said would happen in the 2015 fiscal year. Ector County Auditor David Austin said the insurance company withheld about $700,000 from the county before the county begins repairs. After the repairs process, Austin said the county can then negotiate to regain the $700,000 or more, if the repairs exceed the estimated cost by the insurance company. Regardless, the county will need to pay about $203,000 in deductibles for all three buildings, Austin said, and that money can’t be recovered. Redford said replacing the Coliseum roof will be a priority as the county attempts to make other improvements on that property, and especially because that roof is the most difficult to replace or repair.