Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required coverage for businesses in nearly every state. It covers workers’ for some lost wages and medical costs due to injuries occurring on the job. It provides employers with the piece of mind that they will not be sued for injuries that occur as part of normal business operations. How to administer a system of workers’ compensation is left up to the individual states. Each state has their own way of going about administering this system. One major part of this system is how a state providers employers with a provider of last resort. This is also referred to as the state fund or the assigned risk provider.
Some employers who have had several incidents may be labeled as too much of a risk to insure. other employers are in a very risky industry like off-shore oil-drilling or coal mining. In these situations, insurance companies may deem the business too much of a risk to offer an insurance policy. When this is the case the state steps in and providers a provider of last resort. There are three main ways states go about administering a provider of last resort.
- A State Fund
- A Public-Private Partnership
- Partner with NCCI
A State fund
One way states go about administering a provider of last resort is to have a government provided state fund. Utah and California are examples of two states who have state funded providers. These two states show how a strong or weak assigned risk provider can affect the rates employers pay for coverage. For example, The Workers’ Compensation Fund of Utah (WCF) has a 57 percent market share for work comp policies in the state. The next largest provider owns only a 3 percent share of the market (1). In comparison, The California State Compensation Insurance Fund (CSCIF) controls just over 11 percent of the market, compared to just under 10 percent for the next largest provider. As a result, Utah has workers comp rates that are 107 percent cheaper compared to California. This is not the only contributing factor to the discrepancy in prices, but it goes to show how drastic an effect a strong state fund can have. Now in California’s defense, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Utah is nearly 1.7 trillion dollars less than California (2). That is another huge factor driving up prices in California.
A Public Private partnership.
Some states create a quasi-governmental partnership with a private insurance company to be the provider of last resort. This relationship allows the state and the insurance company partner to spread the risk between the two and still provide coverage to the employers of the state.
Colorado is an example of a strong public private partnership. The state fund provider for Colorado is the company Pinnacol. Pinnacol serves 56,000 businesses covering more than 900,000 workers in Colorado. Colorado employer’s enjoy rates on workers’ compensation insurance that are 19 percent less than the national average(3).
Some states partner with an outside organization to administer the state fund. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) is the organization most frequently used. NCCI is the nation’s most experienced provider of workers compensation information, tools, and services. In most cases they can administer the assigned risk more efficiently and cheaper than a state government can themselves. States who outsource this job to NCCI typically enjoy lower rates across the board.