December 6, 2019

Commissioners vote to pay out nonexistent life insurance policy


MIO — The Oscoda County Board of Commissioners voted to pay out a life insurance policy for someone who never had one through the county in the first place at it’s May 8 meeting.

The commissioners voted to pay $15,000 to the children of former Commissioner Robert Boerner. Boerner committed suicide after being charged with child sexually abusive activity.

Commissioner Jack Kischnick said he is in support of the payment, but still not pleased with the insurance company.

“Do I think the family deserves this? Yes, I do,” Kischnick said. “… I am very disappointed in the insurance company. I think there were a bunch of us who thought we had life insurance, but it turns out we don’t.”

County Prosecutor Cassie Morse-Bills said the insurance company refused to pay out the life insurance policy because a person must work more than 29 hours per week for the county to qualify for coverage. As Boerner was incarcerated, he was not working the set amount of hours, and did not qualify. Other elected officials were not working the set hours either, so they also were ineligible

When the county realized 44North would not pay out the life insurance policy, it asked for a refund of the money paid into it. The company chose to refund Boerner’s principal, which amounted to roughly $5,000.

Kischnick asked Morse-Bills if the county had inadvertently made pursuing further legal action more difficult when the county cashed the check 44North sent. Morse-Bills said unequivocally, yes.

When asked for her opinion on whether the county should pay the policy, Morse-Bills said the options the county had were limited.

“There are two options here,” Morse-Bills said. “You can pay it, or wait for the family to sue the county and bring on the insurance company as an additional defendant.”

Commissioner Pat Kelly said financially speaking, there is only one answer to this problem.

“We are looking at roughly $9,000 if we pay this,” Kelly said. “If we don’t we are going to have a lawsuit on our hands, which I think is going to cost us a lot more than that.”

Before the board unanimously voted to approve the payment, Kischnick asked Morse-Bills if she thought the board would be making a sound decision. She said yes.

Commissioner Larry Wilson said even though the board has decided to pay the policy out of the county’s pocket, it isn’t done hounding the insurance company.

“We’ve still got to go after them,” Wilson said. “For six years we were paying for a policy we didn’t even have.”

Kelly said although it was a burdensome decision, he believes the board made the right one.

“We had a policy in place that we didn’t actually have,” Kelly said. “… In all honesty it was a tragic thing that happened. Can the county be held responsible? I can’t say. Was it needed? We believe yes.”

In the end the county will pay $15,000 to the children of Boerner. Roughly $5,000 of that will come from the refunded principal. The rest will come out of county coffers.

Since the issue was initially brought up, the county and insurance company have amended the life insurance policy. Elected officials no longer have to work 29 hours per week to be eligible for coverage.


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Do the part time employees of the county have life insurance? If not why should commissioners get it, it's not a full time job like other elected officials.

Thursday, May 17, 2018 | Report this

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