04/22/04 — Wayne County creates self-insurance plan

View Archive

Wayne County creates self-insurance plan

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on April 22, 2004 2:08 PM

Wayne County officials have decided to create a self-insured workers compensation program for county employees.

Beginning July 1, the county will be paying most workers-comp claims itself, rather than relying on an outside firm. The county will still buy insurance to protect itself from excessive losses.

The change, endorsed by county commissioners Tuesday, is expected to save $260,000 in the first year, County Manager Lee Smith said.

But the county will also be improving its workplaces, he added. A new employee will lead the county's safety committee and will strive to reduce or avoid accidents.

The new workers-comp program was developed by Human Resources Manager Sue Guy and Finance Director Norman Ricks. It had been discussed for nearly two years but the county wasn't ready until now, Ricks said.

"This will be a money-saving situation as long as we have a good safety program in place and we watch the claims," Ricks said.

Workers comp is an insurance program to reimburse workers for injuries or diseases suffered in connection with their employment. In North Carolina, it's required of any employer with three or more workers.

Wayne County has contracted with the N.C. Association of County Commissioners' risk management agency to handle its workers comp program. Its premium this year was $733,481.

But the county believes it can provide the program much cheaper.

Key Risk, a part of BB&T Insurance Services Inc., has agreed to process claims and do other administrative duties for $12,500 a year. The county is projecting payments of nearly $337,000 next year.

Add in the new safety specialist, the stop-loss insurance and other various expenses, and the new program would be expected to cost almost $472,000. That's still more than $260,000 less than its current premium, Ricks said.

Commissioner Atlas Price called the change similar to increasing the deductible on your car or health insurance. It's a pledge to pay more upfront for a lower insurance rate, he said.