S.C. Insurance Department’s Chief Expert on Risks, Rates, Resigns

November 11, 2005

Dean Kruger, the South Carolina Insurance Department’s chief expert on risks and rates was asked to resign this week after he criticized the National Council on Compensation Insurance.

Kruger, who worked at the department since 1989, would not tell the Myrtle Beach Sun-News whether he resigned or was fired, but confirmed he no longer worked at the agency. A spokesperson for the agency in Columbia, S.C. would only confirm that Kruger no longer works there.

Kruger had long criticized aspects of the way NCCI made calculations that affected worker’s compensation rates in South Carolina. Earlier this year, Kruger and others raised enough questions about NCCI that legislators ordered the Insurance Department to set up a special study committee that, among other things, would suggest what role the council would have in South Carolina’s workers’ compensation insurance system in the future.

Kruger drafted the legislative language the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce pushed this year, Frank Knapp, SCSBC president said. It ultimately became part of the state’s budget law.

Without Kruger, “it’s almost impossible for the advisory board to really understand the history of the Department of Insurance’s relationship with NCCI,” Knapp said. “Kruger was the person at the Department of Insurance who had the responsibility for dealing with NCCI. There was no one else. He is the guy,” Knapp said. “Without his institutional knowledge, the board is just floundering” trying to “figure out what the situation is.”

On Wednesday, state Insurance Director Eleanor Kitzman was leading that panel, and questioning Kruger’s criticism of NCCI.
“It is a criticism that I don’t see a lot of objective, what I would consider credible objective, evidence to support it,” Kitzman said.

Anne Roberson, the agency’s spokeswoman, said Kitzman would not comment on personnel issues or Kruger, who had a salary of $70,844. She said Kitzman was not available for comment Wednesday or Thursday. Kitzman referred questions to a deputy, who would only provide Kruger’s employment dates and salary information.

Unlike most state workers, Kruger may not be able to appeal his fate. State law allows people in the two tiers below agency directors to be fired without appeal to the state’s grievance system.

He isn’t the only top executive with ties to workers’ compensation to be put of work as the state’s system of caring for injured workers comes under more scrutiny from legislators and others.

A year ago, Alicia Clawson, was ousted as executive director of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission after she didn’t oppose plans to fold her agency into the Insurance Department. She’d run the agency for five years and worked at the will of the board’s seven commissioners in a job that paid $99,399 a year.

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