W.Va. Insurance Commission Acting Against Uninsured Employers

July 6, 2006

The West Virginia Insurance Commission is cracking down on the estimated 2,000 employers in the state that do not have workers’ compensation insurance, which is required by law.

When an employee of an uninsured employer gets injured, he or she is taken care of by the state’s Uninsured Fund. Lawmakers set up the fund last year when they passed a law providing for privatization of workers’ compensation through the Brickstreet Mutual Insurance Co.
In some cases, “we’ve identified the employer and we’re working with those employers to structure a payment plan to reimburse the Uninsured Fund, said Insurance Commissioner Jane Cline. The agency is working to help them get a policy through BrickStreet, she said.

“We want to work to make sure all employers who are required to have workers’ compensation coverage have coverage,” Cline said. “If not, we could be working toward having another unfunded liability. The employers who have done what they were supposed to would ultimately end up footing that bill. That’s not an acceptable approach.”

The Insurance Commission is “working on a plan to be much more aggressive” in enforcing the law, she said.

“We’ve been working very hard to make sure we have the accurate names of all of the uninsured employers. We’re going to start publishing those names so people are aware of who is uninsured.”

The agency will also notify these employers that they have given up their immunity to be sued by an injured claimant and are personally liable, Cline said.

“We also have the ability to go to court and seek injunctions against these uninsured employers,” she said.

The Insurance Commission is working with other agencies, such as the state Division of Labor, Lottery Commission and Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, to suspend the state licenses of uninsured employers.

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