Cover Me
May 16, 2018

WORKING ON THE HIGHWAY

Occupational accident coverage is on the road to Colorado. Governor John Hickenlooper signed a new law allowing commercial motor vehicle operators to secure occupational accident insurance policies as sufficient injury cover during employment. Leading motor carrier and owner-operator associations support the rule change, citing that the new law will allow for an array of effective insurance options for truckers. We'll follow the development of this fleet coverage down the road.

 

RAMBLIN' MAN

Speaking of fleeting, Governor Hickenlooper also signed into law House Bill 1308, which is directed at out-of-state employers whose employees work in Colorado on a temporary or fleeting basis. Under the new law, an out-of-state employer does not have to furnish Colorado workers' compensation coverage, so long as the employee is covered in a state where he or she is regularly employed. Second hook, the out-of-state employer's home state must be contiguous to Colorado.

 

UP ON THE ROOF

The Alaska Supreme Court clarified the state's otherwise broad definition of "employer" this week, in a case involving workers' compensation benefits. In its decision, the court overturned an administrative determination finding that a renter was liable for the payment of workers' compensation benefits to a neighbor who had agreed to do construction work up on the roof of the building that served as her home and place of business. The court elected not to drift into a more expansive view of employment in The Last Frontier.

 

AT THE UNION HALL

But in Washington, D.C., Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 13 Democrats introduced The Workplace Democracy Act, a measure that could significantly impact the gig economy. The bill would make it easier for workers to organize and would expand the federal definition of "employer," a much-debated term across the country's emerging contractor workforce. We'll stay tuned to this one as the 2020 election picture comes into focus.

 

ELECTRIC AVENUE

The Chair of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC), Joann Fratianni, announced another step forward in the IWCC's modernization and technological upgrade of operations. Parties will receive case activity notices electronically beginning on July 2, 2018. The IWCC will no longer send case notices via U.S. Mail as of this date. All parties will be required to maintain a designated e-mail address for receiving case notices, just as they are now required to maintain a physical address to receive them by U.S. Mail. We'll keep covering the workers' compensation issues affecting your risk and insurance programs.

Air Ambulance

THE CIRCUITS

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit held this week that an air ambulance firm was within its rights to bill a patient's family for more than what a no-fault Florida automobile insurance policy paid. In Bailey v. Rocky Mountain Holdings and Air Methods Corp., the majority opinion affirmed the federal district court's ruling which extended the air ambulance's firm to regulate its own pricing for otherwise scheduled injury costs.

 

THE CONGRESS

Following similar rulings in other states, state insurance commissioners have urged the adoption of language in House Resolution 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act, which would establish a commission to draft regulations on the issue. The FAA Reauthorization Act passed the House and pends in the Senate. At the same time, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced legislation to directly permit state regulation of air ambulance billing. We'll check back with the news chopper as this story develops.

 

Making Our Way Around the Country

 

ARIZONA

In a case of first impression, the Arizona Supreme Court held that employers shall not be liable to children who contracted cancer from asbestos dust brought home on a parent's work clothes. The five-justice majority refused to extend an employer's duty to protect the public from so-called "take-home secondary exposure." Two justices dissented, saying children have "a greater right" to be free from unreasonable exposure to debilitating and life-threatening illness.

 

SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina Governor Harry McMaster signed into law a "strong and aggressive" cyber security program that will require insurers to protect companies and their consumers from a data breach. The law, keyed off the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' (NAIC) Insurance Data Security Model Law, creates rules for insurers, agents and other licensed entities covering data security. It contains rules on investigation and notification of breach, including notification to regulators of a cyber security event.

 

MARIJUANA

Ohio's medical marijuana program faces a significant injunction hearing next week. The suit seeks to bar the Buckeye State's commerce department from issuing certificates of operation to a dozen businesses that have received provisional grower's licenses. About 185 miles east of Columbus on I-70, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine will now become one of eight Pennsylvania centers approved by Governor Tom Wolf to conduct clinical research for the state's medical marijuana program.

TO THE GRADUATES

May is graduation month. Complete with pomp, circumstance, and some of the most memorable advice of the year. "Be fearless." Remember the "struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose." And, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, perhaps that purpose ought to be IT and Cybersecurity with its 37 percent job growth over the next four years at salaries three times the national average. From all of us at The Way, congratulations and best of luck to the Class of 2018!

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