Thursday, July 30, 2009
Who Has A Gripe about Pinnacol Assurance?
A while ago Pinnacol Assurance was involved in a controversy about its extra revenues. The state of Colorado wanted some of that revenue to help with the budget shortfall. Pinnacol said it should be treated as a private entity so it opposed the effort. The state put off a confrontation but is now flexing its muscle to rein in Pinnacol. By the way Pinnacol is the largest insurer of workers compensation claims in Colorado. Its history is long but let me say it is neither fully private nor fully a public company. So now the legislators are hot on the tail of Pinnacol and Pinnacol is on the defense. A state audit is also underway. Clearly when Pinnacol seems to be thriving and the state is not then you can expect questions to be asked and more funds to go to the state and policyholders. Anyway now they are inviting those with cases or stories involving Pinnacol to come forth and tell a legislative committee all about Pinnacol. You can do this by email so for more on this click here. I am not sure that Pinnacol is the problem. What has happened in workers compensation is that benefits have been reduced and insurers have procedural and financial ways permitted by law to defend themselves and thereby increase profits. Example? If you hurt your arm but can still work in a low wage job you'll get at most a few thousand dollars for a permanent problem if the insurer has its way. So what if you lose your trade. Another example? When someone has a permanent problem with very real pain and medical needs many treating doctors designated by the employer will say you need 6 months or a year or two of medications. So permanent problem but temporary pain relief which allows them to limit future medical benefits. Another way is to close the case out as fast as you can so money is saved. All they are doing is using the law to their advantage. The old concept of liberally construing the law to favor claims was changed. It became a game where there is more to gain by contesting and limiting claims. Without a good lawyer the claimant often doesn't have a chance or may not even know he's getting less then what he might receive. But Senator Carroll is trying to get people to talk about Pinnacol and anyone can do so. Perhaps it will help change the workers comp system to level the playing field for all claimants.