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Oklahoma Opt-Out Insurance – OK Supreme Court Says See Ya!!!


Oklahoma Opt-Out Insurance Takes Major Hit

The fans of Oklahoma Opt-Out Insurance were dealt a five fingered death punch. The Oklahoma Supreme Court just wiped out any semblance of Oklahoma Opt-Out Insurance by ruling it as unconstitutional.

Supreme Oklahoma Opt-Out Insurance Court
Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain

The Oklahoma Workers Comp Commission had already said NO to the opt out option earlier this year.

Will this cause an abrupt increase in Oklahoma’s Workers Comp rates?  That is doubtful as the Oklahoma Opt-Out Insurance market was not that significant when compared with the overall Oklahoma WC insurance marketplace.  Even if the market was significant, the effect on rates would likely be minimal.

Actually, I am always a proponent of any alternative sources of Workers Comp coverage.  One of our core businesses is to aid in finding alternative sources if the usual marketplaces (self insured, large deductible, first dollar, etc.) do not serve the client well.

There are many sources of  WC insurance if one just applies oneself to researching the different marketplaces before the last month of the policy.   Do not take No for an answer is your best creed here.

In football terms, the Opt-Out market lost 35 – 14  as the Supreme Court Justices ruled 7 – 2 in favor of opting out of opt out insurance.

The case that got the ball rolling to end opt out was Vasquez v. Dillards.   Dillards is a very popular department store in Oklahoma.   How would I know?   I actually grew up there in the oilfields.

Deal Breaker Oklahoma-Opt Out Insurance

Two Man Shaking Hands Oklahoma Opt-Out Insurance Deal

According to a very controversial article by ProPublica on Opt Out “Dillard’s employees had to report injuries by the end of the workday and could only appeal in writing to a committee made up of people picked by the company. ”

The appeals going to people picked by the company may not have been the deal-breaker.   The requirement to report the injury by the end of the day was really the only part of the article that I found to possibly be excessive.

At the 2016 WCRI Conference, there were two main sessions on this very topic.  For WCRI to devote this much time to one certain subject indicated the seriousness of the issue.

Will the case be appealed to the US Supreme Court?  One has to wonder if it would even be heard as the US Supreme Court has been very reluctant to consider WC cases.   What will the Oklahoma Opt out insurance market do now?

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James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications


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