CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Gov. Joe Manchin this evening joined Department of Revenue Cabinet Secretary Virgil Helton, Brickstreet Insurance CEO Greg Burton, West Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jane Cline, members of the West Virginia State Firemen’s Association and others to announce Brickstreet Insurance’s decision to delay increasing state’s volunteer fire departments’ (VFDs) workers’ compensation premium rates for one year to allow time for the state to develop a long-term solution.
“I applaud Brickstreet Insurance for voluntarily delaying the increase of workers’ compensation premium rates, while a working group – made up of members of my administration, West Virginia State Firemen’s Association and the Legislature – will study this issue and develop a remediate plan that will create a long-term solution. This plan will help get costs under control, while also working to improve their safety during their volunteer service,” Gov. Joe Manchin said. “Volunteer firemen are so important to our state, and I am so pleased to see the private and public sectors working together for the greater good of our volunteer fire departments and the communities they serve.”
Prior to Brickstreet’s actions today, the VFDs in West Virginia would have been subject to higher premiums, some premiums were set to double, as of July 1, 2010. The current loss ratio for the VFD insurance class is more than 700 percent. This means for every dollar the insurance carrier receives in premium, it is paying out more than seven dollars in losses. However, the previously scheduled increase would still not be enough to cover the insurer’s losses.
“Unless a comprehensive approach to solving this problem is found now, we will continue to have this same annual challenge for years to come,” Sec. Helton said. “I have instructed the Insurance Commissioner to provide a report to me identifying the severity of the problem and suggest remedies to determine the best course of action.”
The Legislature and Governor Manchin’s administration, including the Department of Revenue, Offices of the Insurance Commissioner, Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, and State Fire Marshal, will continue to work together over the next year to develop a lasting solution for VFDs and their workers’ compensation insurance carriers.
“This situation affects hundreds of West Virginians,” the governor added. “The VFDs provide a life-saving service to their communities and in doing so, homeowner’s insurance rates in those communities remain affordable. We will work to find the permanent solution over the next year to keep our VFDs in service. I thank Brickstreet for their compassion and assistance into this situation.”
Sara Payne Scarbro