Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
Woodward business owners required to provide Workers Compensation benefits to employees might have an opportunity to reduce their premiums and their workers might be able to avoid burdensome processes because of a new law slated to take effect February 1, 2014, according to the Oklahoma Insurance Department.
According to the terms of the Administrative Compensation Act - SB 1062 -which was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin in May, employers can now choose from several options to provide injury coverage to their employees.
Officials from the Oklahoma Insurance Department are offering a seminar for Woodward business owners to explain how they can take advantage of and know how to file for the new workers compensation system when it becomes law.
The seminar will take place at the High Plains Technology Center, August 9 at 11:30 a.m.
Under the new system, business owners can choose from two basic options which include becoming a part of the new administrative process, replacing the old court based system; opt out of the administrative system and purchase their own injury coverage for employees or register with the state as a business that will self insure their own workers, said OID Assistant General Council Dan Byrd.
The new workers compensation system is a pioneering effort on the part of Oklahoma legislators who hope to reduce the burdensome red tape of a system that has been inefficient and costly, Byrd said.
The new system will remove claims made after February 1, 2014 from the current court system and replace that system with an administrative process that is less encumbered by an inundated court system, he said.
That means faster treatment for injured employees, less legal fees and court expenses for employers and a more efficient return of the employee to work, Byrd said.
According to Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak, the new program is being watched with great interest by other states, which would like to reduce the excessive burden of higher and higher premiums for Workers Compensation.
"This may even become a model for other states," Byrd said.