CHARLESTON - Travelers Insurance has stepped forward as the first company to accept West Virginia's invitation to compete for workers compensation insurance premiums.

Insurance commissioner Jane Cline said Sept. 18 that she has approved a rate filing and a form filing for Travelers.

She said a rate filing sets the costs of coverage and a form filing spells out policy language.

Travelers can't write workers comp in West Virginia for nine months, but its agents can start pitching policies to employers now.

Cline said a filing is pending from another insurer.

She said Travelers and the other insurer qualified to write workers comp because they already held certificates of authority to write casualty policies.

She said two other insurers that have never done business in West Virginia have applied for certificates of authority so they can join the competition.

"We are getting questions and inquiries from many insurers," Cline said.

"We were hopeful we would begin to see action."

Privately owned BrickStreet Mutual Insurance of Charleston has held a monopoly on West Virginia workers comp since Jan. 1, 2006.

Legislators granted a temporary monopoly when they shut down the state's 92-year-old Workers Compensation Commission.

The monopoly will end July 1.

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