Vail Daily column: Workers’ comp savings available | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Workers’ comp savings available

The cost of doing business continues to increase, and the cost of insurance can often be a large expense to local business. Primary focus is given to heath care and the costs of insurance (and rightfully so), but additional insurance such as workers' compensation is also a requirement to local businesses.

To provide cost savings to our local business community, Vail Valley Partnership members are now eligible to receive a chamber sponsored discount when purchasing workers' compensation through a new affiliation program sponsored by Martin Insurance Group, Rocky Mountain Insurance & Financial and First Comp.

Workers' compensation insurance, often called "workers comp," is a state-mandated program consisting of payments required by law to be made to an employee who is injured or disabled in connection with work.

According to the nonprofit organization Workplace Fairness, the workers' compensation system evolved quickly after the turn of the 20th century in this country. Along with the industrial revolution came bigger, faster and more complex machinery, and many more workplace hazards. Congress passed the Workers' Compensation Act for federal employees in 1908. Each state has now passed workers' compensation laws providing both replacement income and medical expenses caused by injuries that occur on the job, as well as occupational diseases or diseases specifically caused by something unique to the workplace. While the workers' compensation program is national, the states are responsible for implementing it, which means that every aspect, from who is eligible to the process of filing claims, varies according to the laws of the state in which you live.

The Colorado Department of Labor provides additional details for Colorado-based businesses. Laws governing workers' compensation were enacted in Colorado as a form of no-fault insurance in 1915. It was an evolutionary move which began during the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. as mechanization brought an increase in work-related injuries. The intent was to provide a remedy that would balance the interests of the worker by providing adequate medical and wage replacement benefits, while setting limits to liability and establishing cost predictability for the employer.

 In the almost 100 years that followed, benefits have been modified to mirror wage increases while reform legislation addressed increased litigation, dispute resolution backlogs, the resultant premium impact and the need for cost containment to ensure the state's ability to attract new and maintain existing business.  Even so, the original language and intent of the statute "to assure the quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to injured workers at a reasonable cost to employers" remains amazingly intact.

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So, why is workers' compensation important?

 As noted earlier, workers' compensation is designed to compensate employees injured on the job for any medical care, rehabilitation and lost wages due to the injury. Workers' compensation protects your business from lawsuits stemming from workplace accidents. Additionally, if you are paying someone to perform services for your business, then it is likely that you may be legally required by the State of Colorado to purchase a workers' compensation policy. The cost to purchase a policy is not included in your taxes and is a separate expense. The state can fine non-compliant employers up to $250 per day for a first offense or $500 per day for subsequent offenses.

 Why is it a benefit to be part of a group such as the new Vail Valley Partnership-sponsored program?

Qualifying members will receive a 15 to 25 percent discount above and beyond the usual rates, subject to certain requirements.

The affiliation program will bring free, in-person training to educate member companies on how to reduce the risk of injury to its workforce and how to minimize the financial impact of a claim.

A unique online portal will be given to members granting access to free industry-specific safety plans, OSHA compliance bulletins, safety training classes, claims management, return-to-work resources and much more. 

As the exclusive agent for the program, Martin Insurance Group will offer all aspects of policy support to members including claims, billing, administration, and guidance on how to obtain a Cost Containment certification from the State of Colorado Division of Workers' Compensation.

To preserve the integrity of the group, members will need to meet certain criteria including two years of continuous existing workers' compensation coverage, a favorable loss history, and participation in at least one in person safety class each year as directed by the Vail Valley Partnership.

We are happy to announce this new program, and encourage local businesses to research the potential cost savings by joining the workers' compensation program. It could very well save you more than your membership dues. Complete details are available at http://www.VailValleyPartnership.com or contact Anna Robinson at 970-477-4027 for more information.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership. Learn more at http://www.VailValleyPartnership.com.

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