The first private company based in Montana to offer workers compensation insurance has opened.
Victory Insurance Company Inc. held an open house Wednesday, marking the opening of its headquarters on the top floor of the Veterans Affairs building.
The company employs about 10 people now, but the staff is being expanded almost daily, said President and CEO Keith Brownfield, who grew up in Miles City.
Victory will offer all types of workers compensation insurance across the state, he said.
“We try to form a partnership with employers to create a safe working environment, and if an injury occurs, we want to provide superior service in taking care of those claims,” Brownfield told the Miles City Star newspaper.
He said one of the reasons he started the company was to offer an alternative to the Montana State Fund, which has about 70 percent of the business in the state.
About 300 out-of-state companies also are licensed to sell workers compensation coverage in Montana, said Matthew Cohn, communications director for the State Fund. Liberty Northwest, based in Portland, Ore., is largest private carrier, he said.
Cohn called Victory’s opening “good news” for Montana businesses.
“The more competitive choices in Montana that businesses have, the better off we all are,” he said. “We exist to be a competitive force in the market place. It gives Montana employers more opportunity to shop around.”
He added that there will continue to be a place for the State Fund’s services in Montana.
“The difference between us and the private carriers is we are the guaranteed market,” Cohn said. “We must offer insurance to everyone. When everyone else says no to you, we don’t say no. We have to charge accordingly.”
State Auditor John Morrison attended Wednesday’s open house and presented Brownfield with a certificate of authority to offer insurance in Montana, calling the document the “culmination of a long process.”
“This company went through a thorough examination,” he said.
Companies that are based in Montana understand the state’s culture and are too close to be indifferent to their customers, Morrison said.
“They have a special incentive to provide good service because Montanans are their neighbors,” he said.
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