A highly anticipated workers compensation reform package is a victory for South Carolina workers, the business community and the insurance industry but it still lacks some integral components necessary to achieve the desired cost saving for employers, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
In response to skyrocketing claim costs in the state, workers compensation reform has been a top priority for Gov. Mark Sanford, businesses, and insurers.
Frivolous litigation, increased Second Injury Fund assessments, and other cost drivers have stifled the business environment by hurting wages and suppressing job growth and economic development, according to PCI
“South Carolina lawmakers continue to show determination and a willingness to advance important reforms and we thank Gov. Sanford for being an unwavering advocate for the issue,” said Robert Herlong, vice president and regional manager for PCI. “However, the passage of this reform measure is just the first step. There is still unfinished work that needs to be addressed in order to bring relief to insurers.”
According to PCI, the most significant provisions of the bill are:
•Repeal of the Second Injury Fund, which in 2006 levied assessments against the industry for more than $250 million
•Legislative remedies to several state supreme court decisions which have had a negative impact on the state’s workers compensation system
•Narrowing of the definition of “injuries” available for compensation and elimination of compensation for diseases relating to lifestyles or the aging process which are not work related
•Clarification on the level of medical evidence required to establish a claim
•Streamlining of the appellate process and expanded and strengthened the laws and penalties for fraudulent conduct.
Herlong said PCI is disappointed that the law does not go far enough in requiring that awards be based on objective guidelines in order to address excessive and unpredictable awards being rendered by certain members of the Workers Compensation System. He added that PCI will continue to lobby for improvements.
Source: The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America
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