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Employers Face Consequences from Loss of Insurance Terror Backstop

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jan 5, 2015 9:51:25 AM

Congressional leaders are pledging to restore a terrorism insurance backstop program that made workers compensation and other insurance coverages affordable and available post 9-11 to employers in areas considered at high risk for attack.

USCapitol1The U.S. Senate declined to renew the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) before adjourning on December 18 and the law expired on December 31. The failure to re-authorize TRIA, which came as negotiations broke down amid an unrelated dispute over the licensing of insurance agents and brokers, shocked employers, insurers and some lawmakers who had worked for months to hammer out compromise legislation.

The Massachusetts Congressional delegation unanimously supported the proposed six-year renewal of TRIA.

Leaders from both parties on Capitol Hill, including House Speaker John Boehner and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have indicated that Congress will reauthorize TRIA immediately as soon as the House and Senate reconvene tomorrow.

Michael Standing, President and Chief Executive Officer of A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Companies, said the loss of TRIA not only affects cases in which an insurer writes workers compensation coverage directly for an employer, but also assessments that insurers might face through state assigned risk pools.

“The federal backstop remains important to help workers compensation insurers pay losses in the event of a large terror loss,” Standing said.

“Workers compensation insurers can't exclude or limit terrorism-related coverage, can't charge an adequate premium,  and can't predict when, where or how large a terror loss might be.”

Non-renewal of TRIA may have devastating consequences for employers.

Large workers compensation policyholders in so-called target cities, including Boston, will likely find fewer insurers willing to cover them. A large number of employees in one place in a target city equals large workers compensation loss exposure to a terror event - unlimited medical exposure and wage replacement paid to widows or permanently disabled employees.

Moreover, many existing commercial loans - projects completed, being built and being planned - are written with a provision that property insurance coverage be in place, including coverage for terrorism losses including TRIA. Real estate owners and insurers have said that mortgage defaults might result if TRIA is not renewed. Work shutdowns on large projects might occur.

The trade publication Property/Casualty 360 reported that there were legitimate concerns that the workers’ comp marketplace in New York City would be in chaos by the fourth quarter of 2014 as brokers scrambled to place coverage beyond January 1, 2015.  But the chaos did not materialize - some carriers pulled back in certain geographic locations, but others stepped up to take their place. Ultimately, employers were still able to obtain workers’ compensation coverage in the private marketplace. 

Carriers are writing coverage in terror-exposed geographies and will continue to do so as long as the promise of a re-authorization exists and negotiations are completed early in 2015.  Willingness to continue writing coverage in the private market will wane and eventually disappear the longer the uncertainty surrounding re-authorization exists.  It is imperative this coverage is re-authorized quickly.

Topics: Workers Compensation, A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Company, Terrorism Risk Insurance Act

Maintain Local Property Tax Exemption: File by April 1 Deadline

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Mar 19, 2014 4:08:00 PM

april 1 deadline for tax exemptionManufacturing or research and development companies entitled to local property-tax benefits must file the Annual Certification of Entity Tax Status online with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) by April 1, 2014 to claim those benefits.

Click here for the DOR resource page for the April 1 filing deadline.

Corporations seeking to maintain (or acquire) favored property-tax status must file by the deadline to ensure that they appear on DOR’s Division of Local Services List of Corporations for 2014.  Cities and towns use “The List” to determine which corporations and entities treated as corporations are entitled to local property tax relief. The List also specifies for Massachusetts tax purposes, businesses that have been granted the “manufacturing corporation” classification.

Joseph X. Donovan, a tax lawyer at Sullivan and Worcester, says because of tax law changes in 2009, the Department of Revenue could no longer use filings with the Secretary of the Commonwealth to alert local officials about the tax status of a company.

“While the change to a new procedure was necessary, there is a real risk that companies —unaware of the new annual filing requirement to protect favored local property tax statuswill find themselves effectively declassified, with potentially very harsh consequences,” Donovan said.

“While they will be able to cure the declassification by challenging it in the Appellate Tax Board, that route can be quite costly. Moreover,  the resolution of any dispute before the Board can take a long time.   We should hope that taxpayers who find themselves before the Board in such circumstances will be permitted to quickly and informally resolve with opposing counsel the ‘foot fault’ of failure to file the form.”

The DOR publishes “The List” electronically on its Web site on or about April 1. Omission from the list or any particular classification may be appealed by the employer.

Here are some resources for employers:

If you have trouble with the registration process, or with accessing your account, please contact DOR Customer Service at 617-887-6367.  If you have questions about completing the Annual Certification of Entity Tax Status online application after reviewing the FAQs, please contact the Division of Local Services.

Should you have any additional questions, please contact Brad MacDougall, Vice President for Government Affairs or 617-262-1180.

Topics: A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Company, AIM Employer Issues Survey, Financial Services, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM Business Confidence Index, Massachusetts economy, Employment Law, Taxes, John Regan, Annual Certification of Entity Tax Status, Certification of Entity Tax Status, DOR, Department of Revenue, DOR List of Corporations

Innovation Showcase Honors A.I.M. Mutual Injury Prevention Effort

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jan 14, 2014 11:53:00 AM

A global forum has recognized workers compensation insurer Associated Industries of Massachusetts Mutual Insurance Cos. of Burlington for its innovative efforts to reduce workplace injuries and speed recovery times.

BuildingThe January 2014 edition of Best’s Review magazine features A.I.M. Mutual and 15 other companies the publication says have employed unique and creative approaches to problem-solving. A.I.M. Mutual’s project, “Injury Prevention/Worksite Wellness Model,” identified employee medical pre-conditions that had been shown to predict on-the-job disabilities, and then showed how wellness intervention could reduce injuries and speed recovery time.

The worksite wellness model is the culmination of a Clinical Process Improvement/Risk Reduction Initiative that A.I.M. Mutual developed over several years through its partnership with Best Doctors Occupational Health Institute (BDOHI). With BDOHI, A.I.M. Mutual first addressed the post-injury process, giving injured workers direct access to affiliated medical specialists and managing the key risk factors likely to impact recovery. The Injury Prevention/Worksite Wellness Model brings preventive measures to the forefront and expands the traditional work injury loss-control service approach to include a focus on general well-being.

Best Review’s Innovation Showcase is an annual forum for recognizing forward thinking among insurance organizations. A panel of insurance industry experts assessed the relative merits of all 41 submissions in the 2013 event. Companies from North America, Germany, China and India participated.

In reviewing this submission, Dianne Batistoni, a partner at EisnerAmper LLP, called A.I.M. Mutual’s program “the future of intelligent risk management in workers’ compensation insurance.”

“We are honored to be recognized in the A.M. Best Innovation Showcase for our Injury Prevention/Worksite Wellness Model,” said A.I.M. Mutual President Michael Standing. “The Model is a proactive approach to injury prevention combined with inviting employees to become better stewards of their own health. Both are intended to help employers reduce the rate of workplace injuries and improve medical outcomes, particularly in cases that might be compromised by known—or unknown—risk conditions.”

“Working with A.I.M. Mutual’s Claims and Injury Prevention team has been a privilege for us,” noted Michael Shor, Managing Director of BDOHI. “Together, we have embarked on an integrated effort to reduce the risk factors that complicate injuries while helping those who have suffered work-related injury get the right diagnosis and treatment the first time. These are exceptional benefits for both the employee and employer.”

To read about this innovation and all the others highlighted in the Showcase, visit www.bestreview.com. The January digital edition is available to all readers.

Best’s Review is published by the A.M. Best Co. for insurance professionals. Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Co. is the world’s oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source.

A.I.M. Mutual and its subsidiary companies are rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company. Since inception, A.I.M. Mutual has been sponsored by the Commonwealth’s largest employer association, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which has more than 6,500 employer members. The insurer, formed in 1989, provides workers compensation coverage for 16,000 employers throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

BDOHI was established in 2005 by Best Doctors, Inc. Best Doctors serves more than 30 million members globally. Participating physicians, named by an impartial peer review, are among the top 5 percent in their specialty fields and are committed to helping members get the right diagnosis and medical treatment without delay.

Topics: Workers Compensation, A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Company, Workplace Safety

OSHA Enforcement Push Underscores Value of Workplace Safety

Posted by Tom Crupi on Mar 30, 2010 3:59:00 PM

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is going on the offensive.

OSHA's new assistant secretary, David Michaels, has made it clear that the agency will step up its enforcement actions against employers. The OSHA budget for Fiscal Year 2010 increased 10 percent and the agency plans to hire 100 compliance officers nationwide. Meanwhile, OSHA is de-emphasizing cooperative initiatives such as the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) and alliances promoted under the two previous assistant secretaries.

Region 1, which encompasses the New England States, will hire a dozen new compliance officers.  Regular inspections will be directed towards employers with an elevated Days Away Restricted Transfer or DART rate. DART is an accident/illness incident rate that OSHA uses to evaluate a company's safety performance. All injuries or illnesses that result in lost time, restricted duty or job transfer are counted and the total multiplied by 200,000 and divided by the number of hours worked.

OSHA also plans to target specific hazards under the National Emphasis Program (NEP).  NEP inspections will focus on chemical exposures, lead, combustible dusts, hexavalent chrome, silica, and others.  In addition, OSHA plans to conduct comprehensive record keeping inspections in an effort to catch employers who are underreporting injuries and illnesses.

Inspection activity has already increased in Massachusetts, and penalties are at higher levels than they were several years ago.  The acceleration in enforcement is the most significant I have seen in my 40 years of helping companies develop health and safety programs. 

When I teach the AIM OSHA/Safety Certificate series,  I find that many employers do not fully understand  the OSHA standards, nor what their rights are when OSHA shows up at their door.  Employers need to become familiar with how OSHA operates, focus on correcting deficiencies, and reducing their DART rate.  If not, they will be at risk for an inspection and costly penalties.

Tom Crupi is Vice President of Loss Control for A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Company, a workers compensation insurance company based in Burlington

Topics: A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Company, Workplace Safety, AIM

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