Old Lyme, CT – It turned out that the law enforcement officer whose personal umbrella insurance policy was not renewed because of his “unacceptable occupation” is a 19-year veteran of the Connecticut State Police and had not recently changed careers despite claims made by his insurance agent.
On Monday, The Police Tribune contacted Rob Bouvier, president of Bouvier Insurance, to ask about the “notice of non-renewal” that his clients, Connecticut State Police Sergeant Michael Rondinone and his wife, received from Vermont Mutual Insurance Company.
The letter was provided to our publication by a Maryland police officer’s wife who had seen it and become concerned that the cancellation of the Connecticut state trooper’s policy was indicative of what was coming in other states, as police reform legislation and attacks on qualified immunity increase law enforcement officers’ personal liability.
Connecticut lawmakers passed police accountability legislation in late July that did away with qualified immunity and granted citizens the ability to sue individual law enforcement officers more easily, with no cap on the amount officers could be held liable to pay.
So The Police Tribune reached out to the insurance agent listed on the notice to ask why the trooper’s policy was cancelled.
Bouvier said he was “equally upset about the cancellation notice because we appreciate our first responders.”
The insurance agent said he had reached out to the president of Vermont Mutual immediately after he heard about the cancellation from the trooper and the president of the insurance company promised to get to the bottom of the matter.
He told The Police Tribune that what he learned was that the cancellation of the policy had nothing whatsoever to do with the current anti-police environment in the country.
Bouvier told The Police Tribune that never in Vermont Mutual’s almost 200 years in business has the company offered insurance products for law enforcement officers.
He said his client was insured by Vermont Mutual and carried a personal umbrella policy prior to becoming a state trooper.
“There was a change in that policy that added the exposure of a state trooper,” Bouvier explained. “The person was insured under the umbrella policy in a different career field and then became a state trooper.”
The Police Tribune asked the insurance agent multiple times if the trooper’s prior career had been with a different law enforcement agency and he said that it had not.
He said the cancellation notice was issued to the trooper after he notified the insurance company about his change in profession.
“That was an underwriting standard that has been in place since the 80s,” Bouvier told The Police Tribune. “There was zero connection between this and the Police Accountability Act.”
But it turned out that the information he provided to The Police Tribune was not correct.
The state trooper who received the non-renewal notice was in fact a sergeant with the Connecticut State Police who has been a trooper since 2001.
“I didn’t change professions,” Sgt. Rondinone told The Police Tribune. “My wife was a widow and we got married April 20, 2019. And when the policy renewal came up this time last year, we had to add me to the policy. My occupation was revealed at that time and there was no problem.”
He explained his wife had the policy for 15 years because she had an above-ground pool and other issues that could be a liability and after they got married, she added him to the policy.
“I initially called the company and said I was dissatisfied with what they did and told them it wasn’t right,” the veteran law enforcement officer explained. “I thought it was in response to the police reform bill and I still do.”
“They prefaced the conversation with me by saying this definitely wasn’t in response to the police reform bills,” Sgt. Rondinone told The Police Tribune. “But the troubling thing to me is that it happened right after those came out.”
“Why was I granted a renewal initially when they knew my profession?” he asked. “It’s obvious they knew what I did for a living because it’s on the letter they sent me.”
Bouvier told The Police Tribune that Vermont Mutual President Dan Bridge got personally involved to make the situation right and promised to immediately re-instate the trooper’s coverage despite the fact it’s not something they usually offer.
Sgt. Rondinone confirmed that he was satisfied by how Vermont Mutual handled things after the problem was brought to their attention, and posted an update to his earlier Facebook post about the non-renewal letter.
“I just had a four way telephone conversation with three executives from Bouvier Insurance, to include the President of the Vermont Mutual Insurance Group,” the sergeant wrote. “Each gentlemen was understanding when I voiced my concerns over the matter; voicing my concerns not just for myself but EVERYONE in our profession! In our conversation, all were understanding of my concerns, were all on the same page expressing their sentiments in my post and wanted to express their support for men and women in law enforcement; something I learned that they have done throughout the 193-year history of their company.”
“Through all of this, I’m happy to have learned they are not the company they have inaccurately been portrayed as in some of the follow-up posts on this topic,” he continued in the post. “I’m glad this was quickly rectified and take my hat off to each of them for wanting to personally contact me and to let me know they Back the Blue and will continue to do so!”
So Sgt. Rondinone was confused when he saw the comments by his insurance agent to The Police Tribune about the non-renewal being a result of him having changed professions.
“After I read the story, I thought wait a minute – I haven’t changed professions,” the sergeant said. “I was dumbfounded because career change was never a topic of conversation.”
The Police Tribune interviewed Sgt. Rondinone and reached out, again, to Bouvier Insurance and Vermont Mutual Insurance Company and asked them to submit comments in writing in response to concerns about erroneous information that was provided for the initial story.
Bouvier responded to emails from this reporter with requests to talk on the phone, but would not provide a written response.
Vermont Mutual General Counsel William Cahill, who acted as spokesperson for the insurance company in the original story, also repeatedly asked The Police Tribune to allow him to respond via telephone but eventually submitted a statement.
“The matter you have inquired about involves a single policy and has been resolved to the satisfaction of the client and agent. The recent legislation in CT was not in any way connected to this matter,” Cahill wrote in an email.
Sgt. Rondinone, a 26-year law enforcement veteran, said he felt lucky that the insurance company had done the right thing in his case but said the problem was bigger than just him.
The sergeant told The Police Tribune that after he shared a copy of the notice from Vermont Mutual, other law enforcement officers from various departments got in touch with him to tell say their insurance companies had cancelled their policies for the same reason, “unacceptable occupation.”
He said those Connecticut officers had coverage through other insurance companies.
“I feel genuinely sorry for every for every police officer who is going to be taking the torch behind me and won’t be able to get insurance,” he told The Police Tribune.