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Monarch’s workers’ comp costs continue downward trend

By: Jim Erickson

Many measurements showing a downward trend aren’t good news. But at the Monarch Fire Protection District, the continuing cycle of lower workers’ compensation claim costs and the resulting lower price of insurance for that risk are welcome developments.

The latest workers’ compensation numbers and insurance premiums for the coming year took center stage at the Monarch Board of Directors’ Dec. 19 meeting.

Among other things, the board learned the price tag of the low bidder for the district’s workers’ compensation insurance next year will be $589,318, or 10.6 percent less than in 2018.

And while the insurance premium isn’t small, it’s almost half million dollars less than the district paid in 2013, according to data in an analysis provided by the Smith McGehee insurance brokerage firm.

Smith McGehee’s Mike Hennessey said the consistent drop in insurance premiums since 2013 reflects a cultural change at Monarch to emphasize on-the-job safety. He also predicted the likelihood of further price declines as years with higher claims are replaced by current and future years with lower claims costs.

Insurance companies analyze a three-year rolling average of workers’ compensation claims when determining how much to charge for the coverage.

Missouri Employers Mutual, Monarch’s current workers’ compensation insurance provider, again had the low bid for coverage in 2019.

An ebullient Robin Harris, the Monarch board’s treasurer, said he was asked a number of years ago how the district could afford the cost of new equipment when its budget was so tight. Recalling his response was that cutting workers’ compensation insurance costs would be a major step in addressing that challenge, Harris noted that has proven to be the case.

Firefighter/paramedics have an inherently risk-filled job but the Monarch example shows what a consistent emphasis on safety can accomplish, Hennessey observed.

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