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Buying workers’ comp insurance can now benefit the Foundation

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Buying workers’ comp insurance can now benefit the Foundation

Florida lawyers may now purchase workers’ comp insurance through the Bar’s Member Benefits Program and lend a hand to The Florida Bar Foundation at the same time.

The state mandates that all businesses with more than three employees provide an insurance policy to pay for medical treatment and salary benefits of injured workers. Unlike other types of coverage where you get to choose the ultimate cost via limits, covered events and deductibles, workers’ compensation insurance benefits and rates are set by the Legislature and the Division of Workers’ Compensation Department of Financial Services. Therefore, you will pay exactly the same base price for this coverage no matter what carrier you choose.

However, being a member of The Florida Bar, you have an opportunity to purchase your workers’ compensation insurance from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida’s workers’ compensation affiliate OptaComp, said Terry Hill, the director of the Bar’s Programs Division. grouping The Florida Bar members into one single group, each firm is eligible to participate in a dividend program based on the group’s overall performance and combined loss ratios.

Former Florida Bar Foundation President William L. Thompson worked as chair of The Florida Bar’s Member Benefits Committee to ensure ensure that the Foundation could be assigned the dividend and, without giving tax advice, that it should be treated as a charitable contribution in accordance with the U.S. tax code, subject to the individual lawyer’s tax situation.

“The group policy gives even the smallest of firms the opportunity to earn a dividend,” Thompson, a solo practitioner from Orange Park, said. “That dividend might only amount to a couple hundred dollars, but the firm would not have been able to earn any dividend if obtaining workers’ compensation insurance individually.”

More important, Thompson said, when combined with the contributed dividends earned by other firms throughout the state, the group policy could reap contributions of tens of thousands of dollars, which would be significant to an organization like The Florida Bar Foundation and its grantees.

Florida Bar Foundation President Kathy McLeroy of Tampa expressed her gratitude for Thompson’s leadership on the workers’ compensation member benefit.

“We appreciate Bill’s foresight,” McLeroy said. “And we hope that firms all over the state will choose to turn their dividend into a charitable contribution to The Florida Bar Foundation so that while they are taking care of their insurance needs they are also helping ensure that justice works for all Floridians, from the disabled veteran improperly denied his benefits to the foster child whose learning disabilities are not being addressed as required by law.”

Since 1998, Comp Options, now using its new trade name OptaComp, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, and some of the program specifics include:

• The program is underwritten by OptaComp, an A.M. Best rated “A Stable“ insurance carrier.

• The program is nonassessable, so firms will never be asked to make up shortfalls in premiums to cover losses.

• The program contains a “No Recapture Clause.” Once dividends are paid, they will never be recalled.

• Dividends are paid based on six and 18 month valuations of group losses. Firms receive 50 percent of the earned dividend at each valuation period.

• Dividends are earned based on total losses, earned premiums, and minimum achievement goals established for the group.

Contact Bar Member Benefits Insurance Programs administrator at (800) 282-8626 for program details.

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