Legislation regarding workers compensation presumptions for firefighters and other first responders continues to be a topic debated in state legislatures. These presumptions—that certain diseases or injuries are presumed to have been contracted or sustained in the course of employment—have the potential to impact the number of compensable claims and the ultimate cost of those claims.
In providing information to regulators, carriers, and other system stakeholders on the potential impact to a state’s workers compensation system costs from adopting such presumptions, NCCI considers a variety of factors. These factors, some of which are listed below, present a challenge in making accurate cost-impact estimates:
- Many firefighters work for self-insured municipalities that are not required to report data to NCCI, so only a portion of firefighter claim history is readily available
- Published studies on the link between firefighting and certain diseases draw varying conclusions
- Many of the occupational diseases included in legislative proposals providing presumptive coverage to firefighters have long latency periods
- The nature of the proposed bills can vary significantly from state to state, with differences in key factors such as the diseases covered (e.g., cancer, heart disease … even PTSD), restrictions, and the employer’s ability to rebut
NCCI's 2023 update to our white paper on presumptive coverage for firefighters and other first responders discusses these challenges, along with other considerations that may affect the impact of this type of legislation. We also look at recent changes in presumption legislation and potential drivers of changes in claim activity.
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