Maryland Workers’ Compensation Fund Could Be Privatized, If State Bill Passes

Maryland lawmakers have moved forward with legislation that seeks to privatize the state-run Workers’ Compensation fund. S.B. 745 seeks to require the Maryland Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund (IWIF) to restructure into a private workers’ compensation insurance fund, to be known as the Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Co.

The bill was introduced to the Maryland State Senate on Feb. 3 by State Senator Thomas M. Middleton and is co-sponsored by State Senators Katherine Klausmeier and Delores G. Kelley. The bill passed with amendments in the Maryland State Senate in mid-March, and has moved to its first reading in the House (House Bill 1017).

Since 1914, the IWIF has been the Maryland workers’ compensation insurer of last resort — meaning it has written policies for employers who couldn’t otherwise find suitable insurance in the private marketplace. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that the IWIF has been Maryland’s largest workers’ comp insurer — providing insurance for some 21,000 Maryland businesses (more than 20 percent). That amounted to about $170 million in policies written in 2011.

The bill is somewhat controversial, and is not the IWIF’s first attempt at privatizing and moving out from under state control. As the BBJ reports, “Despite the planned name change, IWIF would still be under state control because the governor would continue to name IWIF’s board of directors, insurance industry officials said.” The IWIF has reportedly expressed concern over the Maryland General Assembly and Governor O’Malley seeking to tap its $310 million in surplus to close state budget gaps.

As experienced Baltimore County, Maryland workers compensation lawyers for nearly three decades, we’ve seen how the insurance system works from the inside out. If this pending legislation passes, it’s unclear whether workers compensation insurance rates will change for Maryland employers — and how that change might trickle down to the workers comp claim process for injured workers.

If you’re injured at work — do not attempt to file a Maryland work comp claim on your own. The system is far more complicated than the average working person could ever imagine. Just like you wouldn’t go off hiking in the wilderness without a map and a guide — you don’t want to try to navigate the Maryland Workers Compensation system on your own. Please, if you’re injured at work in Maryland, contact a personal injury attorney who knows the ropes. And for goodness sakes, don’t make a statement to your employer, their insurance rep, or their attorney. Like walking on a slippery precipice — one false move and it could all be over.

The current Maryland Workers Comp system is fraught with enough perils and pitfalls for injured workers. That’s why we as Maryland work injury attorneys are here to help. We will follow this legislation as it moves through the Maryland House.

Related Maryland Workers Comp Lawyer article:

Maryland Work Injury and Death Statistics Shed Light on Most Hazardous Occupations
Jan. 10, 2012

IWIF seeks to cut ties with Maryland
Baltimore Business Journal Feb. 17, 2012
Legislation to privatize Maryland’s workers comp fund moves forward
Business Insurance March 26, 2012
Maryland could ‘privatize’ workers’ comp fund
Out of the Storm News March 27, 2012
Related Web Resources:

Senate Bill 745 — Synopsis and Sponsors

Injured Workers Insurance Fund

Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission

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