LABOR AND INDUSTRIES
Effective Date of Rule: May 1, 2006.
Purpose: Workers' compensation self insurance rules and regulations, chapter 296-15 WAC. This chapter governs employers who are permitted to self insure their workers' compensation obligation pursuant to Title 51 RCW. This filing includes new sections to define "default" and "financial watch" and establishes guidelines if a self-insured employer defaults on their workers' compensation obligation or if they experience a negative financial situation.
Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 51.04.020, 51.14.020, 51.32.190, 51.14.090, and 51.14.095.
Adopted under notice filed as WSR 06-03-106 on January 17, 2006.
Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Comply with Federal Statute: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Federal Rules or Standards: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Recently Enacted State Statutes: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted at Request of a Nongovernmental Entity: New 2, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted on the Agency's Own Initiative: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Clarify, Streamline, or Reform Agency Procedures: New 2, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted Using Negotiated Rule Making: New 2, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Pilot Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Other Alternative Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Date Adopted: March 21, 2006.
WAC 296-15-123 Financial watch. (1) What is financial watch? Financial watch occurs when the department has concerns regarding a self-insured employer's ability to promptly provide benefits to its injured workers based on an analysis of the audited financial statements provided by that employer.
The purpose of financial watch is two-fold:
(a) It serves to alert the employer that the department is concerned with its ability to provide benefits to its injured workers; and
(b) It enforces the due diligence that the department must exercise in preserving the financial integrity of each self-insurer.
(2) What factors can lead to a firm being placed on financial watch? Contributing factors that can lead to a firm being placed on financial watch are negative changes in the following ratios and trends:
(a) Net losses;
(b) Ratio of debt to equity;
(c) Liquidity ratios;
(d) Ratios of debt and equity to total assets;
(e) Ratio of net income to revenue;
(f) Trends in earnings;
(g) Trends in liquidity;
(h) Trends in levels of debt;
(i) Ratio of tangible net worth to levels of debt.
To assess an employer's ability to promptly provide any and all required benefits to its injured workers, the department will utilize these and other analytical ratios. The department may also utilize industry standards and other relevant information in its analysis.
(3) What are the consequences of being placed on financial watch? At the department's discretion, the surety requirement for a firm being placed on financial watch may be increased by up to twenty-five percent. No reduction in surety will be allowed while an employer is on financial watch.
(4) How long can a firm remain on financial watch? The status of a firm on financial watch will be re-evaluated annually upon receipt of its audited financial statements. The department may request interim financial information in addition to the annual audited financial statement.
If significant improvement is not demonstrated to the department's satisfaction after three years of being placed on financial watch, the department may undertake action to withdraw the self-insurance certification of that employer.
(2) What happens when the department first learns a self-insured employer has defaulted on its obligation? The department first corresponds with the self-insured employer to determine if the self-insurer will resume the provision of benefits. If the self-insurer does not respond to the department and resume the provision of benefits within ten days, the self-insured employer is determined to have defaulted.
(3) What happens when the department confirms that a self-insurer has defaulted on its obligation? There are two actions that the department takes when a default by a self-insured employer is confirmed:
(a) First, the department assumes jurisdiction of the claims of the defaulting self-insurer and begins to provide benefits to those injured workers.
(b) Second, the department makes demand upon the surety provided by that self-insurer for the full amount of the surety. The proceeds of the surety are deposited with the department and accrue interest, which will be used to supplement the surety in providing benefits to those injured workers.
(4) What happens to a self-insured employer's certification when it defaults? The employer surrenders its self-insurance certification when it defaults. Any remaining employment in the state would need industrial insurance coverage through the state fund effective with the default by the employer.