Spring is in the air – and so are state workers’ comp laws. Spring legislative sessions routinely cover questions over workers’ comp insurance, what should and should not be included, and how much employers pay into insurance systems subsidized by state governments. So busy is the flurry of activity every spring that those of us in the payroll industry know that now is the time to start looking at workers’ comp for the coming year.
Carrying workers’ comp insurance is not an option in most states. However, employers are not necessarily locked into a single private insurance option or a government-sponsored plan. There are choices. Employers have to look at all their choices in light of coverage needs and state requirements. We offer an innovative pay-as-you-go solution that may be right for your company.
The 2018 Legislative Flurry
Those of us in the payroll and benefits administration business have noticed a flurry of legislation in the first few months of 2018. This is not necessarily unusual, but a number of states have made significant changes that will affect how employers meet workers’ comp requirements. Take Florida, for example.
The state of Florida has long held that workers’ compensation for government employed first responders is limited to physical or 'nervous' injuries. In other words, first responders injured on the job can make workers’ compensation claims if their injuries are either purely physical or deemed to be mental injuries that impair physical function. This narrow definition has excluded benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Legislation just signed by Governor Rick Scott changes that. First responders will now be able to make workers’ comp claims if diagnosed with PTSD as a result of an incident experienced while on the job. First responders in the Sunshine State are obviously thrilled with the work done by the legislature.
Other states have been working on their own workers’ comp upgrades in recent months. In Montana, employers who maintain their workers’ comp insurance through the state plan are likely to see a drop in premium rates for the coming year. The rate decrease is result of a fund surplus.
In Iowa, the state Senate recently approved a plan to appoint a special prosecutor whose job would be to prosecute workers’ comp fraud. Should the House of Representatives pass the legislation as well, it will proceed to the governor's desk for signature. Enhanced fraud prosecution could lead to systemic workers’ comp changes in the Hawkeye State.
You Need the Best Workers’ Comp Policy
Legislation dealing with workers’ compensation insurance is always a delicate thing. On the one hand, legislators want to craft legislation that does not infringe upon the employee's right to file a claim in the event of a workplace injury. On the other hand, they have to be sensitive to the fact that workers’ comp fraud is a very real and serious problem. It is a fine line to walk.
As a provider of payroll processing and benefits administration services, we are sensitive to the fact that workers’ comp laws affect how our clients do business. Moreover, changing workers’ comp laws does not occur in a vacuum. What legislators have done in Florida, Montana, and other states will ultimately affect how employers choose to meet workers’ compensation insurance requirements.
We say all that to say this: we know that you need the best workers’ comp policy you can get. We invite you to contact us to learn more about our unique pay-as-you-go solution. You may find it to be the best workers’ comp option for your business.
1. WLRN – http://wlrn.org/post/scott-will-sign-bill-expanding-workers’-comp-benefits-first-responders
2. Ravalli Republic – http://ravallirepublic.com/news/government-and-politics/article_88d20710-0c9d-5fcb-b9ce-9516dd5a5f7f.html