Calling Workers’ Comp Experts

By | October 8, 2012

Workers’ compensation reform has arrived — or is arriving to be more accurate — in California.

When Gov. Jerry Brown last month signed Senate Bill 863, which is designed to increase disability benefits for injured workers while taking a bite out of the rising cost of workers’ compensation insurance premiums, it put the long sought after system revamp at “halftime,” according one workers’ comp industry watcher.

With the law green lighted, several more steps are needed to make the reforms possible.

“Now that SB 863 has been signed into law, we are basically at halftime. The second half of the game will be implementation of the regulations,” said Mark Sektnan, president of the Association of California Insurance Companies, which served as an advisor to both sides in the negotiations that hammered out the bill. “We may be ahead going into the locker room at the half but the game can change quickly and in the wrong direction if the regulatory process does not garner the necessary balances and controls expected from this bill. The Brown Administration understands a timely and effective implementation of the regulations must be a top priority.”

For more on that story see “Calif. Workers’ Comp Reform Law at ‘Halftime'” on page 30.

The story is part of an ongoing series I’m writing on the new workers’ comp law, and the reforms that must be implemented. So far several experts have seized on a sudden need for more information on the new law that is going to kick in on Jan. 1 and have launched webinars to inform clientele of the changes.

The California Department of Industrial Relations is holding a series of meetings to get input from stakeholders on the reforms that need to be implemented along with the law, but meanwhile many people still don’t know exactly how the law will work or just how much the system will change.

Will the reforms truly generate the cost savings promised by those who pushed them? Will injured workers really fare better, or will they be left hanging, as applicants’ attorneys opposed to the new law have said? Will the workers’ comp system be better off? Or will it need fixing again in another seven or 10 years as has seemed the case over the last three decades?

These are questions the series seeks to answer. If you are a workers’ comp expert, or you have a colleague whom you think has some insights to offer, contact me. Even if you’re not an expert, but you have some opinions on the system, or you know someone who is affected by the changes, please feel free to reach out to me.

You can email me at djergler@insurancejournal.com, or call me at (619) 584-1100, ext. 147.

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