Workers’ compensation reform is certain to be an issue during the 2013 legislative session in Oklahoma and it is a major concern for the state’s independent insurance agents.
The board of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, however, is taking a wait-and-see approach as regards to the 31 bills that have been filed that address reform of the workers’ compensation system.
In a statement released by the IIAO, Chairman Ed McGrath said he believes “it is premature for IIAO to begin a campaign to oppose or support any legislation until we know which specific legislation we are talking about.”
The IIAO’s action last session helped to deny passage of a measure that would have created a stand-alone, opt-out alternative to the state’s workers’ comp system because the agent’s group felt it was seriously flawed.
While the group believes it is premature to advocate for or against any particular bill that has been filed, IIOA has laid out several recommendations for reform:
- Creation of Guaranty Fund protection in the event any carrier providing the coverage goes insolvent as is required for all other companies writing workers compensation insurance in Oklahoma;
- For any business wishing to self-insure it must meet the same financial criteria as has been established by the Workers Compensation Court for self-insured businesses in Oklahoma;
- Disclosure on the policy that there is no coverage for injuries to workers that occur in other states unless the policy is specifically endorsed;
- Clarity on the “exclusive remedy” provisions of the previous legislation.
“Our system is broken – it requires major overhaul to ‘fix’ it. Reform efforts of the past have fallen short of their intended goal. I believe all options need to be considered, including the change to an administrative system and the allowance of opt-out products from the current system, if the employer believes that to be in his/her best interest,” McGrath said.