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New “Pay as You Go” Workers Compensation Rates Announced for 2013

Next year, Washington Horseracing participants will partake in a revamped system for the collection of Labor & Industries workers compensation premiums. In an effort to reduce trainers upfront expenses and assess premiums more equitably, the former annual assessment has been replaced by a pay-as-you go premium that the Department of L&I refers to as “risk-based.”

The WHBPA and WHRC recognized that the initial setup of a stable is costly and the addition of a large upfront insurance premium, upon licensing, created a financial hardship for many trainers. Further, it was reported that trainers from other tracks were discouraged from coming to Emerald Downs for periods less than a full season because the annual L&I premium made it cost prohibitive. To remedy both concerns, in 2013, at the time of licensing, trainers will only pay the appropriate license and fingerprint fee and all L&I premiums will be assessed and collected monthly.

Formerly, trainers paid an annual premium in three 20%-40%-40% installments. The cost was the same for a trainer that had employees 12 months or 3 months. The exercise rider coverage was based on the maximum number of horses on any one day, even if the number was significantly less during the majority of the racing season. The premium for pony riders was collected annually per trainer.

Premiums for exercise riders and pony persons under the new system will be assessed on per horse/per day and be collected monthly. For trainers, all horses, including ponies, will be counted. The 2013 rate is $1.31 per horse. Following are a few examples of how the premium would be assessed.

Example 1- A trainer brings in one horse on the afternoon of March 5. At 3pm, on March 20th, that horse leaves and two new horses come in and remain through the rest of the month. Premium would be calculated ((1horse for 15 days) + (2 horses for 16 days)) x $1.31 = 47 x $1.31 = $61.57 ($62.00) For simplicity, total premium is rounded to the next whole dollar. ($62).

Example 2 - A trainer has 10 horses for 16 days of the month and 12 horses for 14 days of the month the premium assessment would be calculated as ((10 x 16 days) @ $1.31 + (12 x 14 days)) @ $1.31 = 328 x $1.31 = $429.68 (or rounded to next whole dollar =$430.00).

Example 3 – A trainer comes in on the morning of the 4th and works three horses and leaves the grounds with all three. He returns on the 14th and 24th of the same month and does the same thing. Premium for the month would be calculated 3x $1.31 + 3x $1.31 + 3x $1.31 = 9 x $1.31= $11.79 (or rounded to next whole dollar = $12.).

Example 4 – On April 1, a trainer has 8 horses in his care. On the 16th, he/she takes one horse out and brings in 1 pony horse. At the end of the month the assessed premium is (8 x 30) @ $1.31 = 240 x $1.31 = $314.40 (or rounded to next whole dollar =$315.00).

It is imperative that trainers accurately report in/out and transfer activity within their stables. Rules that allow a trainer to be penalized for failing to report the correct number and/or names of horses in their care have been strengthened and will be enforced. Security personnel will also be held accountable for ensuring that horses coming through and leaving the gate are reported accurately. Trainers, who fail to report a transfer of a horse within the grounds, may be held responsible for the premium until the transfer is reported. There will be no refunds for premiums for trainers who fail to report a transfer or incorrectly report the number of horses in their care.

Premiums for groom coverage will be similar to the former “Groom Slot” method but will be assessed monthly instead of annually. There will be a daily rate option for trainers that only need to hire occasional help. Formally a trainer paid an annual rate for each groom in his/her employ. That is if a groom was hired for one month or twelve months the premium was the same. Under the new method, the trainer hiring a groom for one month would pay $139 (the monthly rate) and the trainer that employed a groom 12 months would pay $139 at the end of each of the 12 months. If a trainer, who does not employ a full time groom needs help on race day, he/she could employ any licensed groom and provide insurance coverage for $13.90 (daily rate equals 10% of monthly rate). Unlike, former constraints, the groom would not be limited to paddocking. They could perform all groom duties for that trainer during that one day.

At the time of licensing trainers will be responsible for reporting the number and names of grooms that will be employed during the month. They will also be required to immediately report any changes to staffing of grooms during the month.

A licensed groom may be employed by two separate trainers at the same time, but each trainer must pay the required premium for that groom for the month.

Example 1 – In April, a trainer has 2 grooms under his/her employ. On the 10th of the month one groom quits and a new groom is hired on the 12th. Both work through the end of the month. Groom premium for the month is. 2 x $139.00 = $278.00.

Example 2 – A trainer moves in on the 30th of March and employs a groom for two days. Groom premium for the month would be 1 groom x 2 days x $13.90 = $27.80 ($28.00).

Example 3 – Trainer “A” shares a groom with Trainer “B”. The groom works 1 hour per day for Trainer “A” and 7 hours per day for Trainer “B”. At the end of the month both Trainers are assessed a premium of $139 for coverage of the groom.

Example 4 – Trainer A hires a groom who works from the first to the 26th of May and is let go. On the 27th, trainer B hires that same groom. At the end of the month Trainer A owes full monthly premium for the groom and Trainer B is assessed a premium of 5days x $13.90 = $69.50.

Although workers compensation coverage for all employees is mandated by Washington State law, coverage under the Washington Horse Racing Industry (WHRI) L&I account is optional for trainers with employees not working at a licensed Washington racetrack. Trainers may opt to obtain coverage under a traditional independent business account available from the department. (go to www.lni.wa.gov or talk to L&I small business liaison at 1-800-987-0145 for more information).

Trainers with employees at the farms and training centers opting for coverage via the WHRI account must comply with all licensing, reporting and job description guidelines outlined in the pertaining administrative rules. Failure to do so may deny coverage under the account, but will not relieve the trainer’s responsibility to provide coverage to all employees. Under the WHRI, trainers with grooms working at the farms and training centers will have the same reporting and collection of premium requirements as at the racetrack. However, pony and exercise riders at the farm will require a separate license from exercise and pony persons at the track - and premiums will be collected on a per employee per day. The 2013 daily rate for exercise and pony riders at the farm is $17.90 per day. Trainers must report the names and days that the riders will work at the beginning of the month. To ensure coverage, any personnel changes during the month must be made in advance. There will be no additional license fee for riders who are licensed at both the farm and racetrack.

Trainers traveling to other jurisdictions with their Washington employees may be eligible for out of state coverage under the WHRI account. Premiums would be assessed the same as at the farms, would carry the same reporting requirements and apply only to the trainer’s Washington employees.

The most effective method for lowering worker compensation premiums is to foster a safe workplace and reduce the incidents of fraud in both reporting of premium assessments and accidents. Another key is to return injured employees to work, even with limitations, as soon as possible.

The amended WHRC rules for worker compensation compliance address these issues. Trainers will be responsible for filing timely accident reports and any licensee who partakes in fraudulent activity may be suspended from racing. Department of L&I safety representatives will be more visible in the barn area and may require safety training compliance.

The complete L&I amended language may be viewed on the WHRC website (www.whrc.wa.gov). For a print copy of the changes or to obtain more information please contact the Washington HBPA office. (254-804-6822).

Click here to read a 2013 Horse Racing Industry – Workers Compensation (L & I ) Premiums Frequently Asked Questions document.


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