LIBERAL, MO.--- Barton Mutual Insurance Company is one of Liberal's biggest employers and a year ago it was in financial trouble.
"You look at the numbers, just the extend of the loss it doesn't take a math wizard to see you're coming up a short," says Joel Dermott, President, Barton Mutual Insurance.
The company had annual premiums in 2011 of $32 million, but their claims were $48 million relating to losses from the May 22nd tornado.
"The losses were so catastrophic and so unprecedented that we had exhausted our reinsurance limits and went through our reserves and were facing a deficit," says Dermott.
The Missouri Department of Insurance began oversight of Barton Mutual December of 2011.
"It was necessary due to the extent of the losses we had incurred as a a result of the tornado," says Dermott.
Barton Mutual went through a rehabilitation process. Among several changes, they merged 3 companies and their assets together.
"You look at a situation like that and you say an insurance company has to spread its risk, where it doesn't have too much property or risk in one area, so it's not vulnerable to that type of event," says Dermott.
They also cut costs and expenses internally, streamlined overhead costs, and reassessed re-insurance.
"In rehabilitation they can either go 2 ways. They can come out of rehabilitation like Barton did or they can move into liquidation," says Dermott.
The Department of Insurance leaders say it's a win for both the industry and their 29,000 policyholders.
"They serve rural Missouri, that's one of those things we are there for is to protect consumers and also help out the town of Liberal," says Dermott.
A judge returned control of Barton Mutual to company leadership this December after reviewing their progress.
"We felt a moral obligation to step up and meet those demands, It's a miracle we set here today," says Dermott.
The Missouri Department of Insurance reports that there were nearly 20,000 claims relating to the tornado by the end of October. Nearly $1.7 billion has been paid out. They expect this amount to increase as more commercial claims are reported.