Illinois Governor Signs Bill to Protect Volunteer Drivers

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation to protect volunteer drivers from being denied auto coverage or paying extra for car insurance premiums simply because the driver is a volunteer.
 
 
According to information from Gov. Quinn’s office, House Bill 1378 also prohibits insurers from imposing a surcharge on or increasing the rate for a vehicle policy solely due to one or more of the  drivers being a volunteer.
 
 
“Many seniors rely on others when they need to go to the grocery store, pick up prescriptions, or visit the doctor, and it is important their volunteer drivers have the insurance coverage they need,” Gov. Quinn said. “This legislation clears hurdles for the volunteer drivers who are helping our seniors maintain their independence.”
 
 
Illinois is home to more than two million adults ages 60 and older. Through the Department on Aging, the state administers programs to assist the most vulnerable seniors to remain independent. With more seniors relying on transportation services to remain active and independent, a number of alternative transportation programs for seniors have been established in Illinois.
 
 
One such program is the Independent Transportation Network America (ITN), a public-private partnership with 16 affiliates in 12 states. The ITN service allows seniors who are unable to or no longer wish to drive to donate their cars to ITN in exchange for rides from volunteers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many ITN volunteer drivers use their own vehicles to transport or run errands for seniors.
 
 
Volunteer drivers must verify they hold the proper liability insurance, but differing policies among insurers have in some cases limited the number of available drivers. HB 1378 removes an impediment to the operation of nationally-affiliated transportation networks.
 
 
This legislation will help expand the pool of volunteer drivers for organizations operating in the city of Chicago and the counties of Bureau, Henderson, Henry, Knox, LaSalle, McDonough, Mercer, Putnam, Rock Island, and Warren. While insurers in these areas may not refuse or impose a surcharge based solely upon volunteer driver status, HB 1378 does not prevent the insurer from considering factors other than volunteer status when issuing policies or setting rates for volunteer drivers.(WCxKit)
 
House Bill 1378, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Lyons, D-Chicago, and Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, goes into effect immediately.


Author Robert Elliott
, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Eligible for Workers Comp Despite Smoking Pot

The Montana Supreme Court has thrown its backing behind a Workers Compensation Court ruling that a man who was mauled while feeding the bears at a tourist attraction is eligible for workers comp coverage.
 
 
According to the Associated Press, Brock Hopkins filed a claim with the Uninsured Employers Fund, which denied it due to the fact Hopkins had smoked marijuana prior to entering a bear enclosure at Great Bear Adventures near West Glacier on Nov. 2, 2007. (WCxKit)
 
 
Park owner Russell Kilpatrick claimed that Hopkins was a volunteer and fed the bears after Kilpatrick informed him not to.
 
 
The Workers Compensation Court stated Hopkins was an employee and claimed there was no evidence that impairment from smoking marijuana led to the mauling.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Volunteers and Workers Compensation

One area of workers compensation that varies significantly from state to state is how volunteers are treated by the workers compensation statutes.   While employees are almost always covered for workers compensation, work comp coverage for volunteers is not mandatory in most states. The different states do not even agree on whether or not a volunteer is entitled to workers compensation benefits. In the states that do allow workers compensation benefits for volunteers, there is no uniformity of what constitutes a volunteer. Therefore, this discussion of volunteers and workers compensation will be generic.
 
 

While volunteers
can be found in almost any type of business, they are most often associated with charitable organizations, religious organizations, non-profit organizations, hospitals and governmental departments – like volunteer firefighters, paramedics, forest service and parks. (Some states that do not recognize volunteers as employees make exceptions for volunteer firefighters covering them as employees while not covering other volunteers). (WCxKit)
 
 

Workers compensation
is meant to cover employers for employees who are injured while working. A volunteer, is not an employee, but is providing a benefit to the employer. By definition, a volunteer is a person who provides services without the expectation of compensation or any kind. To be a true volunteer, the person providing the volunteer service – not the employer – determines when the volunteer works, both how often and how long. If the employer is setting precise hours, and treating the volunteer as an employee in every way except compensation, some states will consider the individual an employee not a volunteer.
 
 

The first question
the workers compensation insurer will ask when a work comp claim is presented for a volunteer is: Does the volunteer receive any form of compensation? Compensation does not mean a salary or hourly wages. Compensation in the case of a volunteer can be anything – a living allowance, a discount not available to others, vouchers, room and board, a stipend, certificates, credits, etc. If the volunteer receives any benefit in exchange for the volunteer service being provided, the volunteer will be treated as an employee. If the volunteer does not expect to receive anything of value for the services being provided, than the person is truly a volunteer for the purposes of workers compensation.
 
 

When a volunteer
is covered by the workers compensation statutes of the state, the medical benefits provided by workers compensation will be the same as the medical benefits of a regular employee. The question that often comes up is how are indemnity benefits handled for a volunteer that is unable to resume their volunteer duties for the employer?   Different states handle this in different ways. Some states will require the insurer to pay the volunteer the state minimal indemnity amount per week. In some states the employer and/or insurer will try to calculate the value of the volunteers services to establish a value for disability payments.   Other states provide the volunteer with no indemnity compensation, just medical benefits.
 
 

Some states,
for instance California, allow employers to “opt in” for workers compensation coverage of their volunteers, regardless of whether or not the volunteers receive any benefit from their volunteer work. This is beneficial to the employer as it eliminates the potential for an injured volunteer bringing a tort claim against the employer for an injury.
 
 

The workers compensation insurer
bases its premium calculation on the gross payroll for the employer. The volunteer, who is receiving no pay, is not included in the premium calculations, but increases the insurers exposure to claims. This can create issues with the insurer when they are paying the work comp claim of an injured volunteer.   If an employer knows it will have volunteer workers, the employer should make that fact known to the insurer to prevent a coverage dispute from erupting after a work comp claim is filed.
 

While adding volunteers with the work comp insurer will increase your work comp premium, it is better to have the workers compensation coverage than to be exposed to the volunteer bringing a liability lawsuit against your company. If the volunteer brings a tort action against your company, their potential monetary recovery is much higher than it is under work comp. In a tort claim, not only does the volunteer have the potential to recover their medical cost, they can recover for any pain and suffering they have endured as a result of the injury. (WCxKit)

 
 

If you have
volunteers working for your organization or business, you need to familiarize yourself on how your state treats volunteers when it comes to workers' compensation. Please consult with your state workers' compensation agent, broker, board or industrial commission on how volunteers are handled for the purpose of workers' compensation in your state.
 
 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. www.LowerWC.com
Contact: 
RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com .


 
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Iowa Supreme Court Rules in Volunteer Firefighter Case

The Iowa Supreme Court says a volunteer firefighter may only be summoned to duty through official channels and not due to circumstances as it sought to resolve a workers compensation claim.
According to the Associated Press, the court handed down its ruling last week in a case between insurance companies contesting a claim for firefighter who passed away in 2005 after attempting to save his boss from a manure pit on the farm where they worked. (WCxKit)
According to court documents, after draining and washing the pit, the boss apparently climbed into the manure pit to retrieve a chain that had fallen and was overcome by methane fumes.
After running to a farmhouse approximately150 yards from the barn to alert the boss’s wife to call 911, the man returned to the barn and apparently attempted to remove his boss from the pit on his own. The man was discovered a few minutes later face down in the pit near his boss, apparently also overcome by methane gas.
The men were taken from the pit after rescue personnel arrived, including members of the Volunteer Fire Department, who were paged 68 seconds after receiving the 9-1-1 call. (WCxKit)
Both men died of their injuries shortly after rescue.
The farm’s insurer, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, paid the claim but wanted to have it shared by the fire department’s company, Traveler’s Insurance, stating the man attempting the rescue responded as a firefighter, but the court disagreed.
  \ 
Author Rebecca Shafer,
  President, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers’ Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing.  Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com  or 860-553-6604.
  
FREE IQ Test:   http://www.workerscompkit.com/intro/
Comp Cost Calculator:  http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
Light Duty Calculator:  http://www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers’ comp issues.
  
©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
 Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com 

Volunteer Fire Departments Receive Coverage Under State Operated Insurance Program

West Virginia – State volunteer fire departments will receive broad form insurance coverage through the Board of Risk and Insurance Management (BRIM) effective September 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, according to a press release from Governor Joe Manchin's office.
“I am grateful BRIM has stepped in to provide insurance coverage, and peace of mind, for our VFDs,” Manchin said in a statement. “In addition, the BRIM coverage will provide the Volunteer Fire Department Workers Compensation Task Force much needed time to further study all aspects of the workers compensation challenge affecting volunteer firefighters.” (WCxKit)
Prior to BRIM's action, 281 volunteer departments in the state were en route to losing broad form coverage, which now is provided by Brickstreet set to expire June 1, 2010, but was extended to September 1, 2010. There are 426 fully volunteer fire departments in the state.
 “The 60-day extension from BrickStreet, while generous, did not allow us time to find a permanent solution,” Manchin continued. “BRIM’s action is a temporary solution that will allow VFDs to receive continual broad form coverage while providing ample time for the task force to fully study the issues and find a permanent solution.” (WCxKit)
Earlier in July, Manchin temporarily obtained relief for VFDs from workers compensation premium increases from BrickStreet. The BRIM coverage will give the stakeholders time to find a permanent solution to the problem, he added.
  \ Author Robert Elliott,  executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers’ Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing.  Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com  or 860-553-6604.  
 
Work Comp Calculator:  http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers' comp issues.
  
©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
 Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

CANADA Fighting to Provide Saskatchewan Volunteer Fighters with Workers Compensation Benefits

A Saskatchewan  mayor has convinced the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association to be part of his fight on behalf of volunteer firefighters. For more Information: www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com

Wayne Foster  of Kindersley is looking to have volunteer firefighters receive full benefit coverage with the Workers' Compensation Board, according to The Canadian Press.

Foster asked   the association to lobby the provincial government on the issue and delegates overwhelmingly backed him.

The municipality's  volunteer fire chief died on the job in January 2008 and his spouse was denied WCB coverage at first due to the fact he was a volunteer firefighter.

Volunteer firefighters  from Kindersley and surrounding areas battled a massive blaze that destroyed an ice rink in the west-central town in early January.

A similar resolution  was passed at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities in 2008 with the southwest-located Rural Municipality of Caron backing the cause.  After much lobbying by SARM and the municipality, that decision was reversed.  (workersxzcompxzkit)

At the present time there are approximately 7,200 firefighters in the province, 6,400 of whom are volunteers.

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers' Compensation costs, including airlines, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.


Podcast/Webcast: Claim Handling Strategies
Click Here
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http://www.workerscompkit.com/gallagher/podcast/  Claim_Handling_Strategies/index.php  


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers' comp issues.
 
©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

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