In the coming weeks, West Virginia employers will be notified regarding new premium rates for 2006 Worker's Compensation payments.
Under the new law, premium payments for the first six months of 2006 will be due beginning Jan. 31. They can be paid in one installment or in two, with payments due by Jan. 31 and March 31. Policyholders will receive a six-month policy declarations page for coverage from Jan. 1 through June 30.
Any employer who fails to pay the first premium installment by the deadlines will be subject to new enforcement provisions, including a $10,000 fine, and be personally liable for any awarded injuries/claims. This represents a major shift away from the current schedule of quarterly payments made for coverage previously provided.
The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is hosting regional meetings with local chambers as a way to educate members about the changes. Information about these changes is being mailed to business managers and owners across the state. The mailing is an educational effort of the West Virginia Chamber and the state Workers' Compensation Commission.
Here is some information provided by the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission
Nov. 30: Rate notification letters were mailed for first six-month Workers' Comp premiums due beginning in January 2006.
Dec. 28: New Workers' Comp entity (BrickStreet Mutual) will mail bills. (Only companies in good standing receive a bill. Companies in default will not be written a policy.)
Jan. 1: All employers in default with the Workers' Compensation Commission lose coverage and go into Uninsured Fund. State Workers' Compensation Commission converted into BrickStreet Mutual.
Jan. 15: BrickStreet sends binders or certificate of coverage to all employers who make prospective payments.
Jan. 31: Workers' Comp premium due BrickStreet. (Pay in full or at least first one-half installment)
Feb. 1: BrickStreet issues notice to employers who have not paid as of January 31.
March 31: Second BrickStreet premium installment due from those employers who chose to pay in two installments.
April 1: Deadline for employers to settle 4th Quarter 2005 Workers' Comp premium lose coverage.
CONSEQUENCES OF NON-COMPLIANCE
Because of the transition from the Workers' Compensation Commission to BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Company, there will be a change in the relationship with defaulted accounts. Employers need to make sure their accounts are compliant by Dec. 31. All policies must be in good standing, which includes paying premiums and filing all necessary reports. If an employer has failed to reconcile accounts with the Commission by the end of the year, the business will not be afforded coverage by BrickStreet and therefore will be uninsured. This means that the company will be put in an Uninsured Fund with the State Insurance Commission. The following consequences also could result if accounts are in default on Dec. 31:
Fines up to $10,000;
Business licenses can be revoked;
Action can be taken to shut down businesses; and
Owners and officers will be held personally responsible for all workers' compensation claims, including attorney's fees, made on behalf of employees.