Weslaco ISD Hires New Insurance Consultant

recordbreakerFor the past eight years Valley Risk Management has provided valuable risk management oversight for the district. An eight year tenure with a South Texas school district has to be one for the record books …………………

Weslaco School Board Hires New Insurance Agents



WESLACO — School board members split the vote this week when opting to hire new insurance agents, effectively replacing eight years of Valley Risk Management consulting Weslaco ISD.

In a 4-3 vote, the board opted to contract San Antonio-based SWBC Investment Services from a pool of five firms considered during Tuesday evening’s regular board meeting.

SWBC quoted the district $100,000 in annual costs for services while Valley Risk Management offered $65,000. The lowest bid was for $35,000. Trustees noted, however, that SWBC’s quote can be negotiated down upon the firm’s selection.

Voting in favor of contracting SWBC were Board President Erasmo “Moe” Lopez and trustees Dr. Richard Rivera, Patrick Kennedy and Dr. Jaime Rodriguez. Opposing were Vice President Oscar Caballero, Secretary Isidoro Nieto and trustee Andrew Gonzalez.

The decision came at a time when many employees have expressed concern about the current Frates insurance plan, with some experiencing rising prescription co-pays and others feeling inconvenienced by preauthorization for medications.

Some of the more vehement concerns focus on employees’ insurance not being accepted at Knapp Medical Center.

While Lopez hailed SWBC’s presentation to trustees on Tuesday, the board president stopped short of attributing the move entirely to the aforementioned concerns.

“We had Valley Risk Management for eight years, and I felt that since we had some new board members it was very important to give our board members the opportunity to view presentations from the consultants that are out there in the industry,” Lopez said before confirming that trustees interviewed five firms, four of which were present. “We got the opportunity to ask questions, and on my part SWBC did a very good job. As the vote shows, much of the rest of the board felt the same way. I feel our employees deserved the best, and we had to see what was out there. Valley Risk Management did do a good job, but at the presentation they fell a bit short and we thought that SWBC would do a good job for the district.”

Attempts to gain comment from Caballero, Nieto and Gonzalez were unsuccessful as of press time.

Kennedy, meanwhile, applauded the decision and hopes the new firm can resolve employees’ concerns by seeking a new plan for the district.

“After I talked to and heard a lot of employees’ comments, I was finding out that there were a lot of complaints about medical pre-authorizations, medicine not being covered and having trouble finding coverage for echocardiograms,” Kennedy said of the Frates coverage. “The biggest complaint was that Knapp wasn’t in their coverage. Several teachers fear that if they would suffer a stroke or a heart attack they would either have to go to another hospital or bear 100 percent of the costs at Knapp.”

Although impressed with SWBC’s presentation and current clients, the San Antonio Spurs being among them, working to regain Knapp’s inclusion in employees’ plans proved central to Kennedy’s decision,

“I’m going to demand that the new insurance consultant gets Knapp Medical Center in employees’ coverage,” Kennedy said. “I want them to find a plan that provides the best medical attention for our employees by finding good coverage at all local facilities. So what’s going to happen now is SWBC will help guide the district in going out for request for proposals and getting insurance plans for the employees, and will make a variety of recommendations for products as well.”

For Lopez, securing a plan that’s accepted at Knapp isn’t so much a deal breaker as it is something to aim for.

“Knapp was not the reason we changed consultants, but hopefully moving forward our new consultant can work that out and get Knapp back,” Lopez said.