Colorado’s largest workers-comp insurer is paying $50 million dividend

Pinnacol Assurance, Colorado’s largest workers compensation insurer, will pay a dividend of $50 million this year, returning an average of $941 per company to the roughly 53,000 businesses that earned it.

This will be the second straight year that Pinnacol, which writes policies for nearly 60 percent of the state’s businesses, is issuing a dividend, and the amount is about $30 million higher than what it gave back to clients in 2016.

Dividend checks are calculated based on the policy holders’ size and performance, and about 6 percent of Pinnacol clients did not meet the minimum qualifications to earn a payout. Read more

Court Calls Workers’ Comp Penalties Against Nonemployers ‘Absurd’

A company cannot be penalized for failing to comply with the Workers’ Compensation Act if it is not later defined as the claimant’s employer, a split Commonwealth Court panel has ruled in an issue of first impression.

A three-judge panel of the court held in Ayerplace Enterprises v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Royal) that, although Ayerplace Enterprises failed to make certain workers’ compensation payments after the company was initially determined to be an employer, Ayerplace could not be penalized under the Workers’ Compensation Act for the delay, since it was later determined on appeal not to be the claimant’s employer.

The decision reversed a ruling from a workers’ compensation judge and appeal board, which held that success on the merits of the employment issue did not excuse the company’s initial violation of the act.

According to Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, the only way for penalties to be assessed is for the company to be an employer, and therefore subject to the act.

“It is axiomatic that penalties for noncompliance with the act may only be imposed on litigants that are subject to the act, and more specifically, subject to the penalty provision,” Simpson said. “To construe the act otherwise would lead to an absurd result, like that here, where a litigant that is neither an insurer nor employer under the act, and has no liability for benefits, is required to pay penalties.”

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How Technology Is Changing Workers’ Compensation

New technologies are improving workers’ compensation programs in everything from communications and training to health care delivery and claims, according to experts.

Tom Ryan, market research leader for Marsh’s Workers Compensation Center of Excellence, speaking during a recent Marsh broadcast, identified several areas of workers’ compensation that can benefit from technology:

  • In communications with employees. Information critical to prevent injuries and claim updates can be provided to employees via smartphone mobile applications.
  • In sharing workforce training via an employer’s intranet or through smartphone applications.
  • In delivering care to injured workers through telemedicine and via mobile apps that can direct injured workers to preferred medical providers.
  • In managing claims by providing customizable email alerts, such as notifications when prescriptions are ready.

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What Influential Factors Paint the Workers’ Compensation Landscape?

What Influential Factors Paint the Workers’ Compensation Landscape?

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( – Wage replacement and medical benefits are not what they used to be.

Lawyers, doctors and insurance experts agree, that not only have workers’ compensation guidelines changed over the last decade, but some of the modifications have even changed the face of the industry.

Even though workers’ compensation is somewhat simple, set up with both medical and financial benefits, “over all the states, the workers’ comp environment comes under different rules and regulations and that is why it has become more challenging over the last ten years,” according to Ed Gillman, president of Gillman Insurance Problem Solver out of Alpharetta, GA.

Esquire Nathan Woody, partner at Corales & Woody, LLC, out of Decatur, GA confirms Gillman’s point, using the “Peach State” as an example. “In the past in Georgia, there used to be a 400-week cap on disability payments for standard claims, and medical coverage was still considered for the life of the injury,” Woody said.

But not since the opioid epidemic, which has contributed to longer term workers’ compensation claims. Sometimes, even after a decade-long treatment for non-catastrophic work injuries, some claimants were trying to take advantage of the system. “Some of the medical costs were seemingly unending. In 2013, Georgia amended the law to a 400-week cap for disability payments and medical benefits.”


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Workers’ Compensation: 10 more issues to watch for 2017

Of the many employee-related issues facing companies, workers compensation costs and getting injured workers back to work are near the top of the list.

The first Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark webinar of 2017 provided our thoughts on the 20 Workers’ Compensation Issues to Watch in 2017.

In early January we discussed what we consider as the first 10 issues that workers’ comp professionals need to be aware of in the coming year. What follows is a summary of the remaining 10 issues we talked about:

11. Impaired workforce

After the November elections, eight states and the District of Columbia allow for recreational use of marijuana. This means around one in five people live in a state where recreational marijuana is now legal.

For employers, this means the reality that a percentage of your workforce is likely impaired. Years ago many employers stopped doing pre-employment drug testing because they couldn’t get enough applicants to pass to fill their jobs. New OSHA regulations from 2016 seek to significantly limit the use of post-injury drug testing, which further inhibits employers looking to maintain a drug-free workplace policy.

The answers to this issue are challenging. Drug testing for marijuana always focused on whether the drug was present in the system because it was illegal. It can be detected in the system 30 days after use, but showing presence of the drug doesn’t show impairment. This is an area in which the science needs to catch up with social reality. We need an established standard for what constitutes impairment when it comes to marijuana. Read more