Changes to state insurance law affects volunteer firefighters

Written by Radio Pennsylvania | Apr 2, 2017 7:59 AM

(Harrisburg) -- A 2011 state law has changed the way workers compensation coverage is calculated for some in the most dangerous occupation.

Under the law, known as ACT 46, when a firefighter is diagnosed with cancer, it is now assumed the cancer is work-related.

As a result, many municipalities were dropped from their insurance coverage and turned to the Statewide Insurance Fund, or SWIF, as a last resort.

Michael Vovakas, of the state Insurance Department, testified at a recent Senate hearing that an increase in policies for firefighters and a decrease for other types of workers, adds up to an across the board rate increase.

"The rate increases charged by SWIF were not charged only to policies covering firefighters.  The increase in loss-cost multiplier affected all SWIF policy holders," he said.

Vovakas said the long term effect of the law is still being felt for both volunteer and career firefighters, as well as the municipalities that host them.

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