|Posted:||June 19, 2018 11:06 AM|
|From:||Representative Frank A. Farry|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Volunteer Firefighters Workers' Compensation Trust|
|I plan to introduce legislation in the near future to amend the Workers' Compensation Act to require the Department of Labor and Industry to promulgate regulations to authorize/govern the establishment of self-insurance groups by municipalities to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their volunteer fire companies. Prior to the enactment of Act 46 of 2011 (cancer presumption for firemen), most municipalities insured their workers’ compensation risks associated with volunteer firemen privately or through trusts. After passage of Act 46, most municipalities had their workers’ compensation coverage for volunteer firemen dropped by their existing insurer; those municipalities were forced to obtain such coverage with the State Workers’ Insurance Fund (SWIF). Sixty-five percent of those townships saw rate increases by having to go to SWIF, and at least a quarter of those saw rate increases of at least fifty percent.
According to the Department, SWIF currently has 1,071 active policies for volunteer fire departments; however, some of those policies cover multiple volunteer fire departments so the actual number SWIF covers is probably closer to 1,400 (for reference there are about 2,300 volunteer fire departments in Pennsylvania). My legislation is intended to allow municipalities to get together to create their own group insurance “funds” to allow them to realize cost savings by pooling their risks.
The legislation is a “starting point” on this issue, and I am currently in active discussions with the Department of Labor and Industry and other stakeholders about future technical changes we might need to make to the legislation. I believe this is a “win-win” for volunteer fire companies and SWIF because it should lead to reduced costs for volunteer fire companies and will relieve SWIF of liability in this area. The Department is supportive of the goal of this legislation, and I expect that organizations representing municipalities and volunteer firefighters will strongly support.
Please join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.
Introduced as HB2522