OGDENSBURG While most Americans are concerned about insuring their health, house or car, the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority faces the difficult and expensive challenge of insuring a $217 million international bridge.
On Thursday, the authoritys board of directors bought $93,856,400 worth of property damage coverage for the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge for a $107,490 premium.
Brian Hurley, a risk management specialist at Bailey, Haskell and LaLonde of Syracuse, the authoritys insurance broker, said insurance prices will be increasing in coming years.
Catastrophic losses over the last few years have added up with the tsunamis and hurricanes, he said. Were going into a hard market, so unfortunately prices are going to be headed up.
Due to an increase in claims from natural disasters and terrorist attacks, underwriting is no longer profitable for insurance companies, said Mr. Hurley, leaving investments as their sole source of profits.
Mr. Hurley also said projects to monitor the structural integrity of the bridge, like one approved earlier this year with Clarkson University, could lower future insurance costs.
Any additional safety or monitoring efforts are factored in, he said.
Frederick S. Morrill, authority deputy executive director, said there are fewer companies interested in insuring large, publicly owned structures like the bridge.
I asked for bids, he said. They knew the rates we were paying and were not interested in bidding.
Last year, the authority approved a similar but more expensive policy, which included $18,310 for coverage against earthquakes. That policy, which cost $118,283, ends July 28.
This year, the authority elected not to purchase earthquake insurance, which would have cost an additional $19,674.
My recommendation is to buy the insurance without the earthquake coverage, Mr. Morrill said. I do not believe the federal government would allow that bridge to not exist.
Mr. Hurley said the authority was taking a calculated risk by choosing to eschew the earthquake coverage.
We evaluate these risks from year to year, he said. You sit along a fault line, and there is a certain risk you assume by being where you are.
Last fall, upstate New York experienced flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, but many property owners were not covered because they neglected to buy flood insurance, Mr. Hurley said.
There were calls we had asking is this covered? and we had to say no, you didnt get flood insurance, he said.
Samuel J. LaMacchia, authority chairman, requested that the authority continue to search for other bidders.
You have to have some obligation to look for another insurance company, he said. Were also going to look for a rate guarantee for two to three years.