Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pinnacol Assurance is it private or public?

In the last few days a big dispute arose over a proposal to take what might be considered excess funds from Pinnacol to help the state in the present economic downturn. Pinnacol handles a great many workers comp claims and that means more then any other insurer. In any event Pinnacol has attacked this as a "raid" and outrageous. At the Pinnacol website here is their view. A former Colorado governor chimed in for Pinnacol here. But the Pinnacol story is not quite that simple. Pinnacol has a long story in Colorado. When you look at its history you can see why there is a controversy over the right of the state to take from Pinnacol. Under several names Pinnacol has evolved over time but it originally was set up and funded by the state of Colorado. It was intended to protect workers and employers from other insurers. Truly private companies don't like high risk businesses (construction is one high risk business) so Colorado just sought to ensure that such businesses could obtain coverage at a fair price. Over time Pinnacol has become more private then public but to this day it has some of each. It has a separate statutory section and its board is appointed by the governor. Clearly over time it has evolved away from being a public agency but it is not truly private yet. I am not saying that the effort to get some of Pinnacol's fund is appropriate but arguments that imply it is immune from legislative control are inaccurate. Want to see the statute itself that says Pinnacol is a political subdivision of the state but not a state agency? Go to 8-45-101 from this link.

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