Conference insurance still in PACT


By Woody Woodrick
Advocate Editor 

After being courted by another firm, the Mississippi Conference will continue to purchase its property insurance from the company it helped found two years ago. 

An ad hoc committee voted Nov. 13 to continue purchasing property and liability insurance from United Methodist Property And Casualty Trust (PACT). The committee included the Cabinet, representatives of the Council on Finance and Administration and the conference  Trustees. 

“We’re staying with PACT,” said David Stotts, conference treasurer and benefits officer, “but we had options. The market is getting better for us. 

“The committee believes in the connectional system and that PACT is providing insurance for the connection. They wanted to stay in PACT.” 

Steve Casteel, director of Connectional Ministries, agreed. He said PACT offered a better policy than the other company. In addition, he likes the long term potential of PACT. 

“In pulling together this connectional network, we have an opportunity to continue to build the network with other conferences to ensure coverage, especially in the coastal conferences where we are being pushed out of the market because of the risk,” he  said. 

The decision to remain in PACT hinged on obtaining wind and flood coverage. Most insurance companies are either refusing to write storm-related coverage for the six Mississippi counties along the Gulf Coast or charge high rates. 

“PACT was started because of liability claims,” Stotts said. “When (Hurricane) Katrina blew through, the conference adopted a conference-wide program. That proved to be the best move we could have made.” 

The policy provides up to $100 million in coverage per occurrence except for wind (which tops out at $26 million), flood ($11 million) and earthquake ($50 million). Stotts said the average value of UM churches in the conference is approximately $600,000. Katrina did $8 million in flood damage to UM property and $22 million in wind damage. The earthquake coverage is shared with the Missouri Conference. 

In other financial news, Stotts said contributions to conference apportionments stand at 67.51 percent of the budget as of Nov. 30. The budget for 2006 is $18.6 million.

Giving has come in at a rate of about one-third of 1 percent ahead of 2005. Total money given is $719,776 head of the same point last year. This year’s budget reflects a 5.6 percent increase over 2005. 

Stotts and other conference officials hope to at least match last year’s giving, when 87.02 percent of the budget was met. Traditionally, a large percent of gifts are made during December. 

Leading the giving so far is the Hattiesburg District, which is 9 percent ahead of 2005, while the Seashore, where Katrina hit the hardest, and the Senatobia districts stand at 4 percent ahead.