Rockdale County this week received a check for $209,664 representing its share of a $5 million one-time special return from the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) – Group Self-Insurance Workers’ Compensation Fund (GSIWCF). ACCG works on behalf of county officials and their communities by providing public policy and legislative advocacy, leadership development, civic and community engagement initiatives, and insurance and retirement programs that specialize in local government needs and other cost-saving programs.
“We welcome the opportunity to recognize our loyal program participants and reward longevity in our programs,” ACCG Executive Director Ross King said. “More than 166 counties and authorities trust ACCG to provide for their workers’ compensation insurance needs through our well-established and respected program that specializes in the needs of Georgia county governments.”
The GSIWCF was established in 1982. Organizations participating in the workers’ compensation insurance program since 2014, such as Rockdale, are eligible for the special one-time return.
Each year, premiums are collected from membership and the workers’ compensation benefits are paid to the injured workers. While some injuries are minor and benefits are paid quickly, benefits for more serious injuries may be paid over the course of ten or more years. The portion of the premium that is not immediately needed results as investment income to the program.
“This action underscores the benefit of participating in a county-owned program,” ACCG President and Elbert County Chairman Tommy Lyon said. “We have the flexibility to share a portion of these gains with the membership, whereas a commercial carrier would likely have kept the profit or distributed it to its shareholders.”
The special return came because recently the Board of Trustees determined it was in the best interest of the fund to eliminate one of the three money managers that manage an investment portfolio on behalf of the program. The investments from the terminated money manager were sold in order to transfer the portfolio to the remaining managers, which resulted in an influx of realized gains. After assessing the strength and stability of the program with external consultants, the Board agreed a portion of these gains could be returned to the participating organizations.
Counties have the flexibility to use this funding as needed, however ACCG encourages them to consider investing at least a portion of this special one-time return to implement programs or practices that can reduce the number and severity of future accidents. In turn, this can potentially lower future workers’ compensation premiums as insurance premiums are impacted by the claims history.
Rockdale Chairman and CEO Richard Oden said the County will use its funds in this way and put them back into the budget for thing including workplace safety training, equipment such as back braces and other workers’ compensation-related items. Because of the County’s diligence and focus on these things, it had the highest special return check because of not needing to access the program as much as other counties with claims, he said.
“Year after year we’ve done a better job around prevention and quickly and adequately addressing our workplace injuries, so from this we now see the benefit,” Oden said. “Therefore I’d like to see these funds put right back into the County budget because we want to continue focusing on reducing injuries while at work and having the resources to deal with them appropriately.”
Although ACCG – GSIWCF has returned a dividend 27 times over the life of the program – and every year since 1996 – the dividend has historically been returned in the form of a premium credit. A $3.75 million dividend was distributed statewide as a premium credit in January. The premium credit is beneficial to the membership as it reduces annual premium costs.
The special one-time return is being offered as the result of eliminating one of the program’s money managers. It is not intended to replace the premium credit, which will continue to be evaluated on an annual basis.
ACCG provides workers’ compensation insurance to more Georgia county governments than all other insurers combined and manages assets of approximately $219 million. Since 1985, the program has returned more than $60 million in the form of premium credits.