West Virginia: Officials launch volunteer fire department WC group
In June, Gov. Joe Manchin called on Virgil T. Helton, secretary of the department of revenue, to form a group of stakeholders to provide a permanent solution to the comp problem. The move came after BrickStreet Mutual, the insurer required under state law to provide coverage to volunteer fire departments through June 2011, announced that it would be raising rates by as much as 80 percent. The insurer said the rate hikes were aimed at offsetting more than $4 million in annual claim losses. After state officials expressed concerns that many departments would not be able to continue providing services due to the cost increases, BrickStreet said it would postpone the rate hikes and freeze premium levels for one year.
Manchin said the West Virginia Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Group will ensure these departments aren't burdened with excess costs and are able to stay in operation.
"Our volunteer fire departments need long-term help," Manchin said. "They are instrumental in keeping our communities safe and well-protected. We now need to return the favor and assist these brave men and women so they can continue to operate in our communities."
Helton will be chairman of the West Virginia Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Group. Other participants will include state lawmakers, representatives from the West Virginia State Firemen's Association, the state fire marshal, Insurance Commissioner Jane Cline, and other experts.
"I look forward to working with these individuals as we develop a solution for the volunteer fire departments and to provide them with ongoing relief from high workers' compensation premiums for years to come," Helton said.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 23, 2010
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