Commissioner sued by air ambulance company

By Sarah Pridgeon

At the request of Commissioner Kelly Dennis, the county will be investigating ambulance insurance options for its employees. Dennis, who was injured in a workplace accident over the holidays and taken by air ambulance to Denver, reported that he is facing legal action from the Utah and Wyoming-based life flight providers.

“To make a long story short, air ambulances in both states don’t work at all with insurance providers or hospitals,” Dennis said.

His own insurance provider was nothing but helpful, he said, and attempted to negotiate with Guardian Flight of Utah for around two-and-a-half months. Unfortunately, they reached an impasse.

“They made them a tremendous offer,” he said. “This outfit blew them off and said no, we won’t take it.”

Dennis told his fellow commissioners that he tracked down two other people who had dealt with Guardian Air Flight and had both experienced legal action involving their property.

“They’re going to come after me and what little assets I’ve accumulated in 65 years of life, probably,” he said.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield wrote me a check for $45,000 that I’ve got sitting there. They offered that first to Guardian Flight and they wouldn’t accept it, so I’m sitting there with a check and I’m going to wait for a settlement agreement – which I won’t get.”

Dennis’ reason for bringing up the incident, he said, was that he contacted the State Insurance Office and was told everyone should have ambulance insurance, air and ground.

“Like we’re not insurance-poor already,” he scoffed.

It’s possible to pay a monthly stipend to air ambulance companies – under the guise of insurance, though it is not really so – and be covered, Dennis said. However, true insurance is a better idea, he stressed, as life flight companies are notorious for behavior of this nature and the State Insurance Office noted some private ground ambulance companies can also be problematic.

County Attorney Joe Baron commented that looking into insurance and the associated costs is one option. Working to see ambulance companies placed under the purview of the Public Service Commission would be another.