2009-04-30 / Front Page

Firemen Working To Lower Boro Insurance Costs

Company takes steps to continue lowering workman's comp claims
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Since the McConnellsburg Borough's workman's compensation policy was cancelled two years ago after a large number of claims were logged by the Mc- Connellsburg Volunteer Fire Co., company officials have continued to crack down and improve their internal control measures, resulting in not only fewer claims but additional savings for the borough.

In speaking with the "News," Robert Snyder II, agent with the Robert Snyder Agency of Mc- Connellsburg, reported the fire department submitted a total of four workman's compensation claims between 2003-2004. Those totals increased to six claims in 2004-2005, eight in 2005-2006 and another six in 2006-2007. While many of the claims had insignificant or no payouts, several of the incidents, Snyder noted, were rather seri- ous in nature between 2004 and 2006.

As a result of those ongoing adverse claims, in May 2007 the workers' compensation insurance company insuring the borough discontinued the workman compensation policy. In turn, the borough purchased a higher cost insurance from the State Workers' Insurance Fund, the local insurance agent said.

Snyder, in conjunction with fire company Chief Pete Lynch, was thrilled to report last week due to internal efforts at the company, the McConnellsburg Borough has been able to convince its prior insurance carrier to once again provide workers' insurance coverage beginning May 1.

During the last two years, Lynch stated new policies were enacted within the fire company that directly reduced claims to two in 2007-2008 and three in 2008-2009. The insurance carrier paid out a total of $261 for the 2007-2008 claims, and $514 for the 2008-2009 claims.

In direct comparison, company volunteers were dispatched to 600 fire and rescue calls as well as 2,100 EMS calls dating back to 2007.

Lynch further said that the company has created a safety committee and a safety officer position to ensure that all members are in compliance while on call, especially in the area of wearing proper protective equipment. Furthermore, monthly training meetings are held for the company that is comprised of volunteers.

In addition, debriefing meetings are held with everyone involved in the event of a workman's comp claim to go over what occurred and what could have been done better to keep the situation from occurring. Company members injured on the scene are also evaluated on site by medic unit officials to determine if the individual should be sent for treatment or testing.

Snyder mentioned the company's safety committee originally began with the injured fireman, three officers from the fire company and himself. The committee has since evolved to include many others, and the group meets during the company's training nights to review the claim before the group. "One of the more positive results of this is that it has enhanced everyone's attitude toward safety and safe practices," said Snyder. "As a result, our claims frequency has gone down, along with the average payout for each claim."

Snyder concluded due to the efforts at the firehall and the reduction in the frequency and severity of claims, the total reduction or savings from the prior year is $440. Meanwhile, the additional savings the borough has experienced from changing from the State Workers' Insurance Fund back to their prior carrier.

"To be fair, the total savings of $8,478 is all attributable to the efforts of the folks at the firehall. Efforts that we plan to continue going forward," he added.

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