In 2015, legislation (SB0721 Sen. Green-Clarksville) was introduced that would permit Tennessee employers to “Opt-Out” of the workers’ compensation system, provided the employer secures alternative benefits to meet the minimum levels prescribed in the bill. This would provide significantly reduced medical coverage and temporary benefits through alternative insurance coverages such as occupational accident (OCC/ACC) coverage.
The bill was voted “against recommendation” in a 6-0 vote by the Tennessee Advisory Council on Workers’ Compensation, and was never even brought up for a vote in the House.
We are at a crossroads for the workers’ compensation industry in Tennessee. The real question is, why? Is there not enough competition? Currently there are 397 insurance companies that have filed workers’ comp rates, with 314 of those writing a policy in Tennessee. Is the court system not handling the cases sufficiently? Under the recent law change, the courts have been taken out of the process, and cases are being resolved faster than ever. Are workers’ not receiving benefits? Workers’ are being compensated. Are rates skyrocketing? The state has seen over 20% decrease in loss costs in the last two years.
There are many questions, but the answer is consistently, “No.” So, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? That is the question your Association is asking as we prepare for the 2015 Legislative Session, when the “Workers’ Compensation Alternative Benefit Plan” bill returns to the table. All told, this bill represents a significant shift in public policy that has been in place in Tennessee for over 70 years.
"The Opt-Out Crossroads" The Tennessee Insuror July/August 15
"Tennessee Opt-Out Statement American Insurance Association March 15
"Walmart, Lowe's, Safeway and Nordstrom Are Bankrolling a Nationwide Campaign to Gut Work Comp Mother Jones August 15
"The 24 Hour Oklahoma Opt Out Sham" CompNewsNetwork April 15
"Anatomy of an Oklahoma Opt-Out Benefit Plan" April 15
"An Update on Work Comp Reform of 2013" The Tennessee Insuror July/August 15
"Work Comp Reform of 2013 Impact Report to the General Assembly" July 2015
"Looking beyond Oklahoma opt-out woes" Business Insurance September 2015
"With SB767, Oklahoma Opt Out Gets a Wee Bit Darker" WorkersCompensation.com, Robert Wilson, May 26, 2015
"Should Laws Apply to Everyone?" The Tennessee Insuror, Chuck Bidek, September 2015
"Insurers against workers' comp bill" The Jackson Sun, Tyler Whetstone, September 30, 2015
"Reject Opt-Out Bill for Work Comp" The Jackson Sun, October 2015
"Opt-Out Plans Let Companies Work Without Workers' Comp" National Public Radio October 14, 2015
"Workers' Comp Opt Out Plan Risky for Tennessee" The Tennessean December 13, 2015
Oklahoma Court 7-2 Ruling reads that the Act "creates impermissible, unequal, disparate treatment"