Barrar, Committee Discuss Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Fire Companies
10/15/2018
HARRISBURG – Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) and other members of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees held a public meeting about House Bill 2522, which would amend the Workers’ Compensation Act of 1915 to provide for self-insurance groups among volunteer fire companies.

When Act 46 of 2011, which requires that insurance companies provide 600 weeks from a firefighter’s last day of service for him or her to make a cancer claim, became law, many private insurance companies stopped offering workers’ compensation insurance. Because they didn’t have reserves capable of assuming that level of risk, the State Workers’ Insurance Fund (SWIF) was forced to provide coverage.

While SWIF representatives testified that approximately 98 percent of submitted claims are approved and paid, other testifiers shared the perception that SWIF is not looking out for the Commonwealth’s firefighters. Instead, they claimed that SWIF requires so much documentation to approve a claim that volunteer fire companies, which don’t have paid staff, don’t have time to handle it and never submit the claim as a result.

“We all understand that perception can be independent of reality. Whether that’s the case or not with coverage for our volunteer fire companies, it’s critical that we provide the care deserved by all of the men and women who serve volunteer fire companies,” Barrar said.

Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute Executive Director Don Konkle shared that some volunteer fire companies stopped holding fundraisers, like bingo night, because they worry that the people who run the events aren’t covered if something happens to them.

“With an estimated cost of $8-$10 billion associated with replacing the Commonwealth’s volunteer fire companies, it’s critical that we find a fair and appropriate solution to the insurance coverage challenges that fire companies are currently facing,” Barrar added.

Representative Stephen E. Barrar
160th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Alison Evans
717.260.6206
aevans@pahousegop.com
SteveBarrar.com / Facebook.com/RepBarrar
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