Insurance arrangements and claim queries

Alma Alenka made this Freedom of Information request to North Somerset Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear FoI officer,

I write to request the following information relating to your authority’s insurance arrangements. I prefer to receive your authority’s response in electronic format at this email address. If for any reason you feel this request is unclear, please do not hesitate to contact me for clarification.

1) What was the cost of your insurance premium in the following financial years? Where you have more than one policy, please list these individually.
1a. 2012/13
1b. 2013/14
1c. 2014/15

2) Under your current insurance policy (or policies, as appropriate), what is the value of the excess per claim that you pay (for each category of risk for which there is a specific excess, and/or generally)?

3) With regards your Authority’s stop-loss policy,
3a) do you have an authority-wide stop-loss?
3b) if ‘Yes’ to 3a, what financial threshold is it set at?
3c) if ‘Yes’ to 3a, what does the premium for this cost?

4) For each insurance policy listed in response to question 1, when did you last procure the supply of that insurance?

5) For each insurance policy listed in response to question 1, did you advertise said contract in the OJEU?

6) For each insurance policy listed in response to question 1, how long is the contract with your current supplier for?

7) Does your current contract include a clause that permits extension by agreement?
7a) If the answer to question 7 is ‘Yes’, for how many years can the contract be extended, and how many times can such an extension be agreed?

8) When will you re-procure each of your insurance suppliers providing the policies listed in response to question 1?

9) Thinking of every category of insurance claim (property-related, personal injury, motor etc.) made against your authority, what was the total value of the payments made by yourselves (not by your insurers) in each of the following financial years? For clarity, these would be payments made within the policy excess.
9a. 2012/13
9b. 2013/14
9c. 2014/15

10) Thinking of every category of insurance claim (property-related, personal injury, motor etc.) made against your authority, what was the total value of the payments made by your insurer (not by yourselves) in each of the following financial years? For clarity, these are payments outside of the policy excess.
10a. 2012/13
10b. 2013/14
10c. 2014/15

11) For each of the same financial years as in question 10,
11a. How many claims did you make payments for, and
11b. How many claims did your insurer make payments for?
For clarity, only count claims for 11a for which it was only the authority that paid, either from the excess or otherwise; if the claim was paid by the insurer as well, count it in the response to 11b.

(For the avoidance of doubt, the information sought in questions 9 and 10 is about claims that were settled and paid out in the relevant financial years, regardless of the year in which the claim first arose.)

Thank you for your help.

Kind regards,

Alma Alenka

North Somerset Council

 

Information request
Our reference: 649196

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Dear Ms Alenka
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
 
Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
 
Your request has been allocated reference 649196 and we will respond by
the 20th working day which is on 24 November 2015. Please quote this
reference in any correspondence with us relating to this matter.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Elsa Heath
Information Governance Trainee
North Somerset Council
Legal and Democratic Services
Tel: 01934 634609
Email: [email address]
Web: [1]www.n-somerset.gov.uk
 
 

References

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Lynsey Wilson, North Somerset Council

1 Attachment

Information request
Our reference: 649196

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Dear Ms Alenka
 
Thank you for your request for information received on 27 October 2015.
 
Please find attached our response to your request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Lynsey Wilson
Support Services Contract Monitoring Officer
North Somerset Council
Tel: 01275 885117
Email: [email address]
Web: [1]www.n-somerset.gov.uk

In line with the Freedom of Information Act (2000) and the Freedom of
Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations
2004, the Council reserves the right to charge for disbursements, such as
photocopying and postage. However, on this occasion no fee will be
charged.

Please note that the Freedom of Information Act only provides you with a
right of access to recorded information. Any information subject to
copyright will continue to be protected by the Copyright Designs and
Patents Act (1998). This includes information which is copyright of the
council. Disclosure of any information by the council to you does not
provide you with any rights to use or distribute the information in breach
of any copyright.

North Somerset Council now considers that it has complied with your
request. However, you have a right to appeal if you are dissatisfied with
our response. Requests for an internal review must be made in writing
within 40 calendar days of the response being issued to the requester.
When requesting an internal review, please include your reference number,
the date of your original request and your contact details. Please also
include an explanation of why you are dissatisfied with our response.
Requests for an internal review should be sent to:

Commercial and Contracts Manager
North Somerset Council
Town Hall
Walliscote Grove Road
Weston-super-Mare
BS23 1UJ

or emailed to [2][North Somerset Council request email]

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of our internal review you can
then contact the information commissioner’s office:

telephone: 0303 123 1113
email: [3][email address]
address: Information Commissioner’s Office
 Wycliffe House
 Water Lane
 Wilmslow
 Cheshire
 SK9 5AF

 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

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2. mailto:[North Somerset Council request email]
3. mailto:[email address]

Dear Ms Wilson,

Thank you for your response.

I do not accept your assertion that it is in the public interest to keep secret the amount a taxpayer-funded and democratically accountable body such as a local authority pays in insurance premia. It is absolutely clear that it is in the public interest for spending decisions taken by the bodies to whom they elect councillors to be disclosed to the public. In the Information Commissioner’s own words, disclosure “facilitates the accountability and transparency of public authorities for decisions taken by them” and “facilitates accountability and transparency in the spending of public money.”

The Information Commissioner also says that “The price submitted by a contractor is likely to be commercially sensitive during the tendering process, but less likely to be so once the contract has been awarded” and “Where a company enjoys a monopoly over the provision of the goods or services in question it is less likely that releasing the information will have a prejudicial impact on that company.” The local government insurance market has one supplier which is so dominant as technically to comprise a monopoly.

In any case, under the Act and its associated Guidance you as the public body to whom the enquiry is being made may not make presumptions about the commercial interests of the company whose price you are refusing to disclose. Your obligation if, notwithstanding the evident incorrectness of your position, you persist temporarily in refusing to disclose to the public information about how you spend its money on the grounds that you think it is not in the public interest for the public to have the information disclosed to it because of some commercial aspect of the information is to ask the company to make its own case. If you choose to do this it does not provide grounds in law for any further delay in complying with your obligations under the Act. Finally if you do ask the company what it thinks and it says it agrees with you, that is immaterial as to correct decision about your disclosure obligations under the Act.

Clearly, therefore, you have incorrectly discharged your obligations under the Act. The aggregate of the considerations I have set out here should make it clear to you which way the Information Commissioner will rule if your authority persists in trying to conceal from taxpayers information about how it spends their money.

I look forward to receiving your full response to Questions: 1, 3, 9, 10 and 11.

Yours sincerely,

Alma Alenka

Amy Le-Milliere-Tinney, North Somerset Council

Information request
Our reference: 649196

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Dear Ms Alenka
 
Thank you for your request for a review received on 3 January 2016. I am
sorry that you are dissatisfied with our attempts to handle your request
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
 
I can confirm that I will be conducting an internal review into your
concerns and I will aim to provide you with a response by 2 February 2016.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Amy Le-Milliere-Tinney
Information Governance Officer
North Somerset Council
Information Governance Team
Tel: 01934 634647
Email: [email address]
Web: [1]www.n-somerset.gov.uk
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

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Amy Le-Milliere-Tinney, North Somerset Council

Information request
Our reference: 649196

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Dear Ms Alenka

NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

Thank you for your request for a review received on 3 January 2016. I am
sorry that you are dissatisfied with our attempts to handle your request
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your initial request and our response

On 23 November 2015 we responded to your request for information on the
Council’s insurance arrangements by providing information to answer
questions 2, 3a, 3c, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8. For questions 1, 3b, 9, 10 & 11 we
applied the section 43 exemption (prejudice to commercial interests)

Your request for an internal review

Your request for a review dated 3 January 2016 stated:

I do not accept your assertion that it is in the public interest to keep
secret the amount a taxpayer-funded and democratically accountable body
such as a local authority pays in insurance premia. It is absolutely clear
that it is in the public interest for spending decisions taken by the
bodies to whom they elect councillors to be disclosed to the public. In
the Information Commissioner's own words, disclosure "facilitates the
accountability and transparency of public authorities for decisions taken
by them" and "facilitates accountability and transparency in the spending
of public money."

The Information Commissioner also says that "The price submitted by a
contractor is likely to be commercially sensitive during the tendering
process, but less likely to be so once the contract has been awarded" and
"Where a company enjoys a monopoly over the provision of the goods or
services in question it is less likely that releasing the information will
have a prejudicial impact on that company." The local government insurance
market has one supplier which is so dominant as technically to comprise a
monopoly.

In any case, under the Act and its associated Guidance you as the public
body to whom the enquiry is being made may not make presumptions about the
commercial interests of the company whose price you are refusing to
disclose. Your obligation if, notwithstanding the evident incorrectness of
your position, you persist temporarily in refusing to disclose to the
public information about how you spend its money on the grounds that you
think it is not in the public interest for the public to have the
information disclosed to it because of some commercial aspect of the
information is to ask the company to make its own case. If you choose to
do this it does not provide grounds in law for any further delay in
complying with your obligations under the Act. Finally if you do ask the
company what it thinks and it says it agrees with you, that is immaterial
as to correct decision about your disclosure obligations under the Act.

Clearly, therefore, you have incorrectly discharged your obligations under
the Act. The aggregate of the considerations I have set out here should
make it clear to you which way the Information Commissioner will rule if
your authority persists in trying to conceal from taxpayers information
about how it spends their money.

My response to your request for an internal review 

I am the council’s Information Governance Officer and I respond to some of
the requests for an internal review. I was not involved in your original
request. I have reviewed the application of the exemption applied to
questions 1, 3b, 9, 10 and 11.

While considering your request for an internal review I have carried out
the following:

1) Reviewed the case file and all the actions and correspondence
associated with our response to you

2) Contacted officers who were involved with your request

3) Contacted the Council’s insurance company

Outcome of the internal review

As you pointed out in your request for an internal review, the Council may
not claim commercial prejudice on behalf of a company. The company in
question must be approached and asked for their views on disclosure and if
they consider disclosure would prejudice their commercial interests, they
must provide solid reasoning for this. As such, my first step in the
internal review was to check that the insurance company was contacted for
their views on the disclosure of the information. Reviewing the case file
it was apparent that both the insurance company and the insurance broker
were contacted for their views, although this was not explained in our
response letter to you.

To ensure I fully understood their reasons for opposing disclosure, I
again contacted the insurance company for details on the commercial
prejudice that they considered would be likely to be happen. They advised
that the disclosure of the information requested in questions 1, 3b, 10
and 11b could be combined with information on the services the council
provides and the claims experience for the council to calculate the
insurance premium. This information would allow competitors to work out
how the insurer is pricing its bids and undercut the insurer, providing an
unfair advantage. The insurance company also pointed out that the local
government insurance market is not a monopoly and there are a large number
of insurers in the field.

Given this reasoning, I would consider that the application of the section
43 exemption was correctly applied to questions 1, 3b, 10 and 11b.
However, a public interest test is required to determine whether the
exemption can be maintained, and this follows.

Factors in
favour of Factors in favour of withholding
disclosure
Disclosure would
support the Our brokers have requested that this information is withheld, as the premium
government’s offered has been based on assumptions made without this information. Some of the
transparency information requested therefore is deemed commercially sensitive.
agenda
Disclosure would
support the
Council’s
over-arching
policy of access Disclosing this information could potentially give competitors an unfair advantage
to information in a tendering process
and its ongoing
commitment to
the publication
of information
The public has a
right to
scrutinise the
Council’s The insurance contract has only recently been procured, meaning the information
expenditure on still holds a high level of sensitivity
insurance at a
time of
significantly
reduced funds
Releasing the
information
would provide
the public with
evidence that
the Council does
consider the
financial
implications of Section 43 is a prejudice based exemption, meaning there is an inherent public
liability interest in maintaining the exemption, in order to avoid commercial prejudice to
claims, and puts any company
in place
adequate
insurance to
ensure that
public funds are
being used
appropriately
and
cost-effectively
The information
could also lead
to other
insurance There is public interest, backed by EU procurement legislation, in both ensuring
brokers being that companies are able to compete fairly and that there is competition for public
able to offer sector contracts.
the Council a
cheaper premium
in future years
There is a
general public
interest in
promoting Disclosure could cause reputational damage to the Council and discourage companies
transparency, from competing for Council contracts if it is perceived that the Council does not
accountability, consider and protect the commercial interests of the companies it does business
public with
understanding
and involvement
in Council
processes.
FOI has an The contract with the insurers states thatthey understand the Council’s FOI and EIR
inbuilt bias in obligations and will assist and co-operate to enable the Council to comply with its
favour of disclosure obligations. They have provided other information in response to FOI
disclosure requests which shows they are willing to disclose information but they consider
this disclosure would genuinely cause them commercial harm
There is an
interest in
ensuring that Some information about Council spend on insurance is already published on the
the Council is Council’s DataShare website when reviewing Council spend over £250 and filtering by
getting value insurance as a keyword
for money when [1]http://data.n-somerset.gov.uk/View/finan...
purchasing goods
or services
  The amounts paid out for claims by the insurance company do not come at a cost to
the Council, therefore it is not spending of public sector money

Whilst the Council has a strong commitment to transparency and the
publication of information, as well as accountability for its actions and
spending, it also has to consider the wider implications of disclosing
some information. Scrutiny of the Council’s practices and spending by the
public is welcome, but disclosing information that could prejudice the
commercial interests of businesses would have a wider impact on the
business sector, affecting the fairness of competition, and would diminish
trust in the council. Considering all the factors in this case, I consider
that the public interest lies in maintaining the exemption and the
information shall not be disclosed.

Regarding questions 9 and 11a, I consider that this information should
have been disclosed to you, as its disclosure would not result in
commercial prejudice to the Council. Please see the answers to these
questions as follows:

Question 9 – Thinking of every category of insurance claim made against
your authority, what was the total value of the payments made by
yourselves (not by your insurers) in each of the following financial
years? For clarity, these would be payments made within the policy excess.

9a – 2012/2013 £368,826.80

9b – 2013/2014 £237,372.73

9c – 2014/2015 £72,141.25

Question 11a – For each of the financial years in question 10, how many
claims did you make payments for?

2012/2013 – 246

2013/2014 – 189

2014/2015 - 117

What you may do next

If you are not happy with the outcome of this internal review you have the
right to appeal directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.
The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioners Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF [2]http://ico.org.uk/

Kind Regards
  
Amy Le-Milliere-Tinney
Information Governance Officer
North Somerset Council
Information Governance Team
Tel: 01934 634647
Email: [email address]
Web: [3]www.n-somerset.gov.uk
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

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2. http://ico.org.uk/
3. file:///tmp/www.n-somerset.gov.uk

Dear Ms Le-Milliere-Tinney,

Thank you for your response. Could you please rewrite or amend the format as it would appear some sentences in your reply got mixed up and in places parts of sentences are missing. This makes the text difficult to follow.

I appreciate your assistance in this.

Yours sincerely,

Alma Alenka

Amy Le-Milliere-Tinney, North Somerset Council

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Internal review response.htm.html

    0K Download

Dear Ms Alenka,

I have checked the email in a number of different formats and have found
no error in the formatting when received. I have attached the response
again, and would note that there is a table in the middle of the response,
however all entries in the table are also complete.

Kind Regards
Amy Le-Milliere-Tinney

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Dear Ms Le-Milliere-Tinney,

Thank you for your response. Could you please rewrite or amend the
format as it would appear some sentences in your reply got mixed up
and in places parts of sentences are missing. This makes the text
difficult to follow.

I appreciate your assistance in this.

Yours sincerely,

Alma Alenka

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