W. Va. Begins Tagging Firms Lacking Workers’ Comp

July 30, 2006

West Virginia businesses that choose to operate without workers’ compensation insurance will be tagged with yellow signs.

Investigators with the state Insurance Commission started posting yellow warning signs on the doors of 147 businesses in Charleston this week. The enforcement effort goes statewide next week.

The signs let employees and the public know that the employer does not have the state-required coverage to handle injuries caused by accidents on the job.

“The notice also says the employer is now personally liable for any cost associated with an employee of theirs who is hurt while on the job,” said Insurance Commissioner Jane Cline.

“They are further breaking the law if they take the posting down without first paying us and obtaining their coverage through BrickStreet.”

Employers targeted by the campaign were in default under the old Workers’ Compensation System or failed to pay their premiums for the first or second quarter of this year to the state’s new privatized system. The state-run system was turned over to BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Co. in January.

It is estimated that 2,000 of the state’s 40,000 businesses do not have workers’ compensation insurance.

An earlier campaign to advertise the names of employers in default resulted in 120 coming forward to pay fines and penalties and another 111 filing paperwork to terminate their businesses or seek an exemption.

Since Jan. 1, the state has obtained 147 court orders requiring businesses in default to stop operating.

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

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