New California State Fund CEO Steiner Has Ties to Zenith, WCRI

May 27, 2014

The State Compensation Insurance Fund Board of Directors on Tuesday named Vernon Steiner as the new president and CEO of California’s largest workers’ compensation provider.

The appointment is on a four-year contract with an annual salary of $450,000 plus a yearly bonus eligibility of 30 percent of his salary and a monthly $1,500 retention payment. He also gets a one-time $270,000 recruitment and retention bonus and he will receive state civil service benefits.

He starts June 9. It was announced to State Fund employees shortly before noon on Tuesday.

He wasn’t making himself immediately available for media interviews to give himself some time to meet with stakeholders and others involved in the organization, said State Fund spokeswoman Jennifer Vargen.

The new hire occurs six months after Tom Rowe and Chief Financial Officer Dan Sevilla unexpectedly stepped down. There has never been a reason given by Rowe or Sevilla and State Fund hasn’t offered reasons for their departure.

Steiner, who  holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from UCLA, comes from Zenith Insurance Co., where he was a senior vice president in charge of the company’s national claims operation. He has held that post since 2007.

He has 24 years of industry experience, mostly with a focus on workers’ comp and casualty business operations. Prior to Zenith, he held leadership positions at CNA Financial and AIG.

Steiner is incoming chairman of the California Workers’ Compensation Institute’s Board of Directors. He has served on the Workers Compensation Research Institute’s advisory board since 2009.

Vargen said Steiner was chosen because of his claims experience, and his leadership style.

“The State Fund search was extensive and they considered many candidates and ultimately selected Vern,” Vargen said. “He stood out as a superior choice because of this leadership style and demonstrated effectiveness as a leader. He also has extensive claims experience, and claims is core to our mission at State Fund.”

In 2010, State Fund began a transformation that has reduced annual fixed expenses by $300 million, according to the organization. It’s part of an overall multiyear effort to restructure the organization and reduce expenditures.

In a statement Steiner said he will help to ensure continued stability in the market.

“I am honored to be selected as State Fund’s new president in the midst of its 100th anniversary.  I am excited by the organization’s purpose and unique role in California’s workers’ compensation insurance market,” Steiner said in a statement. “Working with the board, executive team and all employees, we will ensure State Fund continues to create stability in the market and deliver significant value to California employers and injured workers.”

State Fund was temporarily helmed by Carol Newman, State Fund’s general counsel.

Board Chair Sheryl Chalupa said Newman will now return to her previous role in the organization.

“On behalf of the entire Board, I want to thank Carol Newman for her strong leadership as interim CEO and President,” Chalupa said in a statement.  “For the past six months Carol has guided the executive team to continue to push forward on our strategic plan and strengthen the governance of our enterprise projects.  The Board deeply values Carol’s contributions to State Fund and is very pleased she has agreed to return to her role as State Fund’s General Counsel.”

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