Insurance companies can deploy multiple “bad faith” tactics to delay, obfuscate, and muddle the workers’ compensation claims process as it unfolds between insured employers and injured workers. One of the more common legal tactics is to bury clauses deep in workers comp contracts to create burdens and discourage quick resolution of claims.
In California, these burdens include hidden policy provisions that allow insurance companies to move arbitration of claims disputes to another state and resolve the claims under that state’s law.
Why is this unfairly beneficial to insurance companies?
Generally, when an employer is looking for a workers comp policy, they will simply select the policy with lowest price. However, the true price of this “cheap” policy is the forced removal of arbitration to another state to lower the cost. Ultimately, employers may find themselves negotiating in a state that is known to be unfavorable to employers or workers.
To address this situation, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 684. This bill protects California employers from being taken out of state by insurers to resolve disputes. The bill mandates that workers’ compensation insurances provide explicit disclosure to employers that a provision is included in the contract for out-of-state arbitration.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones noted the bill received bipartisan support. “SB 684 protects California’s businesses by preventing workers’ compensation insurers from dragging California businesses to other states like New York or Delaware to resolve disputes, without the California business’s consent,” said Commissioner Jones. “SB 684 reduces costs for California businesses associated with having to fly managers and lawyers to places like New York or Delaware to resolve disputes that could just as easily be resolved here in California.”
It is practices like these that often intimidate both employers and injured workers as they seek justice in the workers’ compensation system. If you are an injured worker, be sure to first seek medical care. Then contact an experienced Washington Labor & Industries Attorney to serve as your advocate throughout the claims process.