Georgia Senate passes worker's comp bill to include injured Georgians

Despite stiff opposition from the insurance industry, the Georgia Senate passed a measure to allow employers, whose workers' compensation firm became insolvent last year, buy into the state's insurance insolvency pool.

Rep. Carl Rogers' (R-Gainesville) bill follows last year's failure of Southeastern U.S. Insurance Inc., an Atlanta-based workers' compensation insurer.

The Senate version, which passed Tuesday, lets employers with less than $25 million in net assets buy into the pool's coverage by paying $20,000 per claim. Employers with more than $25 million in net assets are required to pay $100,000. The House version, which passed last month, sets the buy-in fees at $5,000 and $20,000 per claim, respectively.

The bill goes back to the Georgia House to be reconciled with that chamber's version before being submitted to Gov. Sonny Perdue for his signature.

When SEUS failed, some employers whose injured employees had active workers' comp claims became responsible for their medical bills because SEUS wasn't always required to contribute to the insolvency pool.

The state legislature passed had a law that required all insurers to begin contributing to the fund. But it didn't cover those insurers' claims that pre-dated Jan. 1, 2008, when the law took effect.

Eighty-eight workers in Georgia, including eight so severely injured that they'll need lifetime medical care, filed claims before that date.