Lumberton School District property was grossly undervalued

By BUSTER WOLFE,

The property in the Lumberton School District was undervalued for insurance purposes, and Lamar County school and insurance officials doubled its value as the Lamar County School Board approved insurance for next school year at the recent school board meeting.

Ross Bell of BXS Insurance said adding Lumberton schools to Lamar County has made for “an eventful year.” Lumberton and Lamar County will begin the voluntary consolidation on July 1.

“We have been working on (the Lumberton property addition) since before the first of the year and we went down there to take a look,” Bell said. “We made some changes. The amount of premiums spent on Lumberton last year with the various carriers was $91,500. The schedule in Lumberton was $11 million. We started doing some square footage calculations and found out quickly that that was pretty far off.”

Bell said he combined students, assets, property values and rolled the stock and everything into Lamar County.

“Lamar County before (the addition of) Lumberton had added $3 million property value,” he said. “Then we took the $11 million and added an additional $11 million, increasing Lumberton to $22 million. So, you are looking at about a $25 million increase in the total insured value. Last year, we were at $214 million; we are at $239 million now.”

Bell said the increased valuation will mean changes in carrier.

“This will necessitate moving our property insurance from our AmWINS carrier to Liberty, which has the rest of the insurance,” he said. “We are operating and negotiating from a greater amount of strength. I believe that will serve us well in the future. If a natural disaster comes, I believe it will help us in the long run.”

Bell said the insurance rates will be similar to last year.

“Before we were involved, you were at a 27 percent rate on property rates,” he said. “Now, you’re at 17 percent. This is about 2 cents less – plus or minus – what you were paying last year. All in all, I’m very pleased with the way this turned out.”

Bell said Lumberton had a 46 percent rate on its property insurance last year.

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