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Major supplier of Arizona firefighters’ worker’s comp leaves market

(Facebook Photo/CopperPoint Insurance Companies)

PHOENIX — While lawmakers contemplate legislation that would guarantee worker’s compensation for firefighters battling cancer, one of the industry’s most prominent suppliers announced it is leaving the market.

CopperPoint Insurance Companies earlier this month notified policyholders — including those in cities and fire districts across Arizona — of the decision.

“Unfortunately, workers’ compensation insurance within the municipal and fire district marketplace has become increasingly volatile and difficult to properly assess – which is why most private insurance carriers stopped covering these customers years ago,” CopperPoint said in a statement to KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“CopperPoint had hoped to continue this service, but it is clear that is no longer possible due to policy changes that continue to destabilize the marketplace.”

Those policy changes refer to SB 1160.

State Sens. Heather Carter and Paul Boyer committed to getting the legislation across the finish line in December when an ad-hoc committee made a list of legislative recommendations.

Those recommendations hoped to fix what many believe is a loophole in the law that was passed in 2017 that used the term “presumptive” while describing occupational cancer for firefighters.

But SB 1160 has language that includes the word “irrefutable.” That would make it next to impossible for a firefighter to get denied coverage.

Brian Moore, vice president of member benefits with the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, has been helping assist Arizona firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer navigate the process of receiving worker’s compensation for several years.

“It’s clear their motive is profit, not firefighters lives,” Moore told KTAR News. “They always found a way to deny firefighters in the past even with the original presumptive law in place. Now they see the changes happening and by the looks of it they know it would be harder to deny them. So they’re getting out of it for good.”

While the bill worked its way through committee in early February, lobbyists representing 7710 Insurance Marc Osborn told lawmakers if the bill passed, it would force them to dramatically increase their rates.

Regardless of the insurance company’s vocal opposition, the bill sailed out of the Senate and now seems stalled in the House.

Different fire districts report they have been notified they would likely see a 270% increase in rates.

Senator Heather Carter believes it could be because of a whisper campaign in the halls of the legislature with no one actually listed opposing her bill.

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