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Workers' Compensation could see change if Congress doesn't act

Connecticut workers may have heard about the failure of the previous Congress to renew The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, causing surprise and disappointment for insurance executives. An expectation for the new Congress to act on the measure immediately has stalled alterations in insurer behavior that may impact workers' compensation coverage.

Previously, TRIA has helped support insurers in the event of excessive claims due to terrorism. While some market watchers are worried about a possible raise in premiums or increased coverage restrictions, most employers will not have to fear going without workers' compensation benefits in the meantime. Carriers foresaw the possible delay in TRIA coverage and began preparing by writing in policy adjustments over the past year to compensate. Additionally, the excess number of carriers across the nation has allowed strong competition to force insurers to remain reasonable or suffer the loss of an insured. Currently, most insurers are employing wait-and-see approaches, but careful review of potential terrorism exposures will need to take place if Congress does not renew TRIA quickly. If the expected renewal does not occur, consequences will most likely be felt differently across the country based on geographic location and size of the insurer. Those in larger cities have a greater possibility of experiencing a worst-case scenario of a terrorist event-and thus would see an increase in policy amounts if Congress did not pass TRIA to cover the expenses.

Any reduction in workers' compensation benefits would greatly impact hardworking citizens. Currently, benefits are available to assist employees that have suffered a workplace injury or illness. Coverage extends to preexisting conditions that a workplace accident or injury accelerates or aggravates, as well as injuries resulting from mental and physical strain occurring from work-related stress. Illnesses such as cancer or mesothelioma, if contracted from toxin exposure during normal working conditions, are generally covered. Even injuries during breaks or lunch hours can fall under workers' compensation benefits.

Workers' compensation is an invaluable resource for employees suffering from work-related injuries. Any adjustment to the coverage could greatly impact the amount of financial support workers can receive after on-the-job incidents.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Workers' Comp Insurers Unfazed by TRIA Failure For Now But Expect Quick Fix", Young Ha and Denise Johnson, Jan. 4, 2015

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