Law Protecting Firefighters Creating Workers’ Comp Insurance Issues

As we discussed previously, premiums for workers’ compensation insurance in Pennsylvania have been reduced for the second consecutive period. Apparently, all is not well for the insurance carriers in PA however. It appears a change in the law has made several insurance carriers refuse to cover fire departments in Pennsylvania.

In 2011, the PA legislature passed Act 146. As we discussed on our blog, this law created a presumption that cancer in a firefighter was related to his or her employment for the purposes of workers’ compensation benefits (meaning the burden of proof would fall to the employer to prove the cancer was not related to work activities). The period within which a claim can be reported was also significantly extended.

According to a recent article on Firehouse.com, these changes to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act made several insurance carriers drop the workers ‘ compensation coverage for fire departments in PA. Of course, communities or townships can self-insure for workers’ comp, or they, like any employer, can turn to the State Workers’ Insurance Fund (SWIF), a quasi-government insurance carrier which will offer coverage to any employer in PA.

While we, like any citizen, hate to see higher costs to a governmental entity, we also recognize the extreme dedication and sacrifice made, every day, by these brave men and women. We hope the legislature does not modify this law, to make the insurance carriers happy at the cost of the health and welfare of our courageous firefighters.