On November 2, 2010, registered voters in the State of Washington will consider Initiative 1082 (“I-1082”) when they cast their ballots in this year’s election cycle. I-1082 would allow for the privatization of workers’ compensation insurance, which currently is only available through the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (the “L&I”). Washington is one of four states that maintain a government monopoly on workers’ compensation insurance.
According to media reports, recent polls have shown an even split between supporters and opponents of the measure, each with 31% and the remaining 38% being undecided. Daniel Holst, executive vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Washington (IIABW) and whose organization has raised over $300,000 in support of I-1082, stated, “Our members believe the current system doesn't serve customers well. [The] L&I has a chance of becoming insolvent, and we believe customers will be better served by having choices.”
Alternatively, opponents of I-1082, including Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, are against the measure because (i) it exempts workers' compensation insurers from the voter-approved Insurance Fair Conduct Act, which they believe will allow insurers to intentionally delay and deny legitimate claims, (ii) it offers no guaranty fund protection for insolvent insurers, and (iii) may lead to higher premiums for employers.