Tennessee State Workers' Compensation Opt-Out Proposal

March 16, 2015

A Tennessee legislative proposal would allow certain employers to opt out of the state's workers' compensation program and design individual programs that meet minimum requirements. Minimum requirements would include: medical coverage for at least 156 weeks and $300,000 per employee; temporary total indemnity for at least 156 weeks; and a combined benefit limit of $750,000 per employee/$2 million per occurrence. Workers' compensation would still be considered no fault, with certain defenses still available to the employer. To qualify for the program, an employer would have to meet certain financial thresholds, have a workplace safety program, and have at least 100 employees. The employer would be required to have a state-approved and licensed claims servicing company or in-house adjuster approved by the employer's carrier.

The matter was deferred in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee to March 17. The Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act underwent major reform in 2013 that took effect last July, with new claims being heard in an administrative court overseen by the Tennessee Department of Labor. Under this proposal, employers opting out of the state's workers' compensation system would litigate their claims in the state court system.

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