Local govt. hit hard by insurance premiums

Municipalities throughout the Commonwealth are facing sky-rocketing workmens compensation insurance.

The primary cause is a provision in state law that allows firefighters who can link cancer they are diagnosed with later in life that can be linked to service fighting fires.

The clause has prompted insurance providers across the state to either jack up costs to municipalities, who are required by law to provide workmens compensation for the fire departments in their jurisdiction, or cancel policies altogether.

A couple of cost saving solutions were discussed during the monthly meeting of the Warren County Council of Govenrnments.

Clarendon Borough Councilman Paul Pascuzzi, citing the situation in Pleasant Township presented at a recent municipal secretaries meeting, said that “they were able to identify different sources of workmens compensation for municipal employees versus their contribution for fire services. (The) reason that is advantageous, in the case of having a claim” only one of the policies would be affected. “This is a take away from that meeting,” he said.

Youngsville Borough Manager Lisa Hagberg said that the borough’s premiums increased over 100 percent from last year to this year up to $78,000. “One thing we did… (was a) safety audit.” She explained that an outside entity came in and examined both the operations of the borough and the fire department and “gave us a recommendation. It was a lot of pages. Our guys have been working hard to do it. It will help us in the future to keep our accidents and injuries to a minimum.”

“The fire department came up with a lot of things on their own,” she added. With the formation of a safety committee stemming out of these recommendations, Hagberg said that the borough could receive a five percent premium reduction.

Pleasant Township Supervisor Arden Knapp said that Pleasant “did the safety committee thing. Our premium has been coming down.”

Pascuzzi noted that “you have to take a proactive safety approach.”

Workmens compensation insurance is discussed on a continual basis at COG meetings.