Nearly $80,000 has been paid out for eight Hancock County workers’ compensation claims since May 2017.
Those claims, especially two, are the primary reason the county’s insurance cost increased $12,431 from 2018, said Luann Gatchel with Jaspersen Insurance & Real Estate, Monday morning during her annual review at the supervisors’ meeting.
Hancock County has liability, property and workers’ compensation coverage through the Iowa Communities Assurance Pool, or ICAP, and Iowa Municipalities Workers’ Compensation Association.
The county’s total insurance cost in 2019, including ICAP and workers’ compensation, was $193,752.
The county paid $84,526, a $1,513 increase, for ICAP and $109,226, a $10,918 increase, for workers’ compensation in 2019, according to documents provided to the board.
Gatchel said Hancock County’s workers’ compensation premium jumped because its experience modification factor increased from 0.99 to 1.05 based on claims filed during fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
“If you didn’t have that experience mod, you probably would’ve seen a reduction in the work-comp premium,” she said.
Of Hancock County’s workers’ compensation claims between May 5, 2017, and March 26, 2019, six occurred in the Secondary Roads department. The other two were in Grounds and Maintenance.
The largest pay-outs occurred in May 2017 and March 2018.
On May 5, 2017, a Secondary Roads employee was cutting down a tree and tried to catch a branch falling toward an individual and tore their rotator cuff. About $46,053 has been paid out for the closed claim.
On March 9, 2018, a Secondary Roads employee smashed their finger with a tailgate. About $29,255 has been paid out for the claim that remains open.
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Gatchel said those two claims will affect the county’s experience modification factor, and its premium, for the next two years.
“After a couple years, hopefully you don’t have anything else that goes bad, you should be back under that 1.0 and get that premium back down to where it should be,” she said. “The county’s always had a very good experience mod, but it’s taken a jump the last couple years.
“But if you have employees that get hurt, that’s what it’s there for.”
Other claims were “very, very minimal” in cost and injury.
On Nov. 7, 2018, a Secondary Roads employee cut their cheek with a pry bar. That claim was closed without payment. On Jan. 9, 2019, a Grounds and Maintenance employee struck their head on a cabinet. The claim was closed with a $78 payment.
Gatchel said if the County Board is concerned about specific departments’ claims, the workers’ compensation association can visit and review their practices.
“Maybe just as a little reminder that we need to do things a little bit different, at least so we don’t have some of these happen,” she said. “Some are just accidents, and accidents happen.”
The Hancock County supervisors did not take action related to the workers’ compensation claims, but renewed its coverage for fiscal year 2020.