Last updated: September 13. 2013 7:18AM - 644 Views

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A major storm and settlements of inmate lawsuits contributed to a nearly $20 million increase in the West Virginia Board of Risk and Insurance Management’s claims expenses.

The agency’s annual report shows that claims expenses claims for the fiscal year that ended June 30 totaled more than $53 million. About $4 million of the expenses were due to the derecho on June 29, 2012. The derecho and subsequent storms left three people dead and more than 680,000 customers without electricity across the state.

Most of the state’s 55 counties had damage claims because of the storm, BRIM Director Chuck Jones told the Charleston Gazette.

“That was an anomaly, obviously,” he said. “We didn’t expect anything like that.”

Jones said that the storm also hit the state park system hard. Parks not only had damage claims but lost revenue because they had to be closed for the July 4 holiday.

“State parks were affected tremendously,” Jones said.

Inmate lawsuits were another key factor in the increase. During the fiscal year, BRIM settled claims on about 100 Regional Jail lawsuits and 75 Corrections lawsuits, with settlements running up to $25,000 to $30,000 each, including legal fees, he said.

“It’s a considerable amount of money,” he said.

But he said that BRIM remains fiscally sound.

The annual report shows that BRIM’s total net assets at the end of fiscal 2012 were $221.5 million, up $1.68 million from the previous year.

“We don’t have an unfunded liability like we used to have years ago,” Jones said.

Claims payments tend be cyclical and upswings occur in certain years, he said.

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