THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2014
Last year was a HUGE year in our industry. You may or may not have seen it sprawled all over the paper or on the local news about the new legislation that would affect everyone and anyone with employees. You might have heard of the ‘Opt Out Program’ or as it’s also known, ‘The Oklahoma Option.’ While it’s probably not the most riveting thing to talk about, it is something that business owners should absolutely know about. Not only is it another option other than worker’s compensation, but it can, dare I say, save you money, which are words people rarely feel like they hear when it comes to buying insurance.
So what exactly is this Oklahoma Option thing? The Oklahoma Option is an employee benefit program specifically designed by the employer regarding the claim process in the event of an on the job incident. Now I’ll break it down because who really knows what any of that really means. The Oklahoma option is a program that the employer designs. You would pick the doctors, how and when it’s handled, and the process after the injury has occurred. Essentially, you make the rules. Now if I was an employee and just read that I would probably be concerned, but I promise, there is accountability. These plans that employers draw up HAVE to be approved by the Oklahoma Insurance Department before it can go into effect. They must provide a safe work environment, impose safety rules and equipment, etc., in other words they have requirements they have to meet. Even though they are calling it a ‘benefit plan’ it is written through an insurance company. With normal workers compensation the claim is between the injured worker and the insurance company. You don’t pay a deductible and the company just handles it. That is great is you file more than a few claims each policy year, but a majority of workers compensation policy holders are rarely filing any claims. If you have a workers compensation policy in place, then you’re aware it’s not cheap. With the opt out program, the claim is between the injured worker and the employer. The employer would essentially have a deductible which could be as low as $1000 or as high as $50,000 or higher per claim. The employer agrees to pay up to that agreed amount for each claim. After they’ve reached that limit, then the insurance company would step in and pay the rest. By self insuring with the deductible, there is no waiting on the company to make a decision about the injured worker. You can take immediate action and treat your employee as fast as humanly possible. By the employer handling it, it can eliminate an off the job injury claim being filed as work related, the employer maintains close communication with the injured worker during recovery hence recovery time shortened because of constant contact and expedited medical treatment. Not to mention, it is less expensive than normal worker’s compensation.
The Oklahoma Option can be a great new program for Oklahoma businesses to take advantage of. Every employer wants to take care of their employees the best, most efficient way possible and the Oklahoma Option helps to do that. If you have questions regarding your current workers compensation policy or about the Oklahoma Option, ask your agent. If they can’t help, ECI is always here to help you with your Oklahoma worker's compensation questions.
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