Earlier this week, Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) member Jim Klingensmith, CIC of L. Calvin Jones & Co. in Canfield made the trip to Columbus to educate legislators on the Senate Insurance Committee about a problem in Ohio’s workers’ compensation system that unfairly punishes employers.
Currently, commercial auto accidents that result in workers' comp claims are charged to an employer’s experience rating, even if claims are likely to be subrogated. This leads to the employer no longer being eligible for group rating and/or paying much higher WC premiums. While this issue is not widespread, it can have severe consequences for impacted employers.
Klingensmith provided the lead testimony in support of Ohio House Bill 207, which is sponsored by OIA member Rep. Mike Henne (R-Clayton) and Rep. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon). The bill would allow Ohio employers to request that auto-related workers' comp claims be charged to BWC's surplus fund instead of charging them to the employer's experience in the event that the claims are likely to be subrogated. In simpler terms, HB 207 will correct an inequity in current law that punishes an employer in a situation that may be no fault of their own.
In addition to OIA, the Ohio Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce testified in support.
Last December, the Ohio House of Representatives voted unanimously to support this legislation.
Prior to passing the House, several positive changes were made to the bill including expanding it to apply to “motor vehicle” claims rather than just “auto” claims. This change broadens the scope of the bill to ensure the subrogation process has a more expansive application and benefit for Ohio employers.
Other changes were made to strengthen the legislation so BWC can quickly provide an objective evaluation regarding the ability to subrogate an injured worker's claim and ensure that there are sufficient funds to subrogate.
Prior to the legislation passing the House, OIA members Mike Heister, CIC of Heister Insurance in Cincinnati and Tom Lucci, CPCU, ARM of National Risk Management Services Inc. in Chagrin Falls also provided the leading testimony in the House Insurance Committee on this critical legislation.
HB 207 will likely receive one more hearing in the Senate Insurance Committee and then will be put up for a vote to move on to the full Senate for consideration.