As Sandy Springs wraps up its ongoing lawsuit with the Church of Scientology, the city is moving its liability insurance policy out of a insurance pool that has paid the city’s legal costs.

City leaders say the move will save money while providing the same level of coverage.

Records show the switch to a private insurer will save the city nearly $200,000 this year. The Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency, known has GIRMA, has been the city’s liability insurer since 2005. GIRMA is a shared-risk insurance pool offered to cities, which are typically too costly for private insurers to cover.

George Van Leuven, manager of risk management for GIRMA, said the insurance pool has spent $84,000 to date defending the city in the Scientology suit, which has dragged through the courts since 2009. The city was also billed for a $10,000 deductible on the claim.

At its meeting on June 19, Sandy Springs City Council voted to move the city’s liability coverage to McCart Group while keeping its workers’ compensation insurance with GIRMA. The new policies begin July 1.

GIRMA quoted the city nearly $1 million to provide a bundle of coverage, including liability insurance for public officials and auto coverage.

McCart quoted approximately $800,000 for the same bundle of coverage. GIRMA’s latest quote to the city was $81,525 higher than the cost of its existing policy with the city, city records show.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of