MUS SELF-FUNDED WORKERS' COMPENSATION PROGRAM
Workers' compensation provides no-fault insurance coverage to MUS employees for work-related injuries and diseases that are incurred accidentally through the course and scope of employment, and are verified by medically objective facts.
The MUS Self-Funded Workers' compensation program pays for:
- Approved medical, hospital and related services due to workplace injuries;
- Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work assistance;
- Compensation for those who are temporarily unable to work due to the work related injury or illness;
- Vocational Rehabilitation opportunities and disability compensation in cases of permanent impairment.
Workers’ compensation is a program designed to provide coverage, to be easy to access without professional help, and to return the employee to the work force as soon as possible. All injuries should be reported to your supervisor as early as possible and the First Report of Injury for a workers' compensation claims should be handled according to campus policies.
MUS employees should report injuries and complete a FROI immediately following a work-related injury or becoming aware of an occupational illness. Prompt reporting leads to best injury recoveries, allows workplace hazards to be eliminated, and helps protect your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. Delayed reporting an injury or occupational disease (OD) to your employer can result in lost injury prevention opportunities, slower recovery, and may complicate your ability to prove work-relatedness. Employees who report or file a FROI for occupational injuries or illnesses beyond statutory timelines, 30 Days for injuries or 1 year from knowing or should-have-known of an occupational disease (OD), may be ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Every employer in Montana, with few exceptions, must provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. In 2003 MUS elected to fund its workers' compensation coverage directly with its own resources, rather than purchase insurance through a private insurer or the Montana State Fund.
Each campus pays a monthly premium to the MUS Self-Funded Workers' Compensation Program based on its payroll for the month. The more successful the MUS is at keeping its workers safe, the lower its workers' compensation costs, and the more funds are available for other campus spending needs. Through self-insuring, MUS has achieved successful outcomes for employees while achieving cost savings for the university system.
The Board of Regents created a program known as the MUS Self-Funded Workers' Compensation Program (Program) and also created a MSU Self-Funded Workers' Compensation Committee (Committee). The Committee is comprised of 9 voting members, one from each of the campuses of the MUS and one from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE). In addition, risk managers with occupational health and safety responsibilities from UM and from MSU as well as one non-MUS expert in risk management, workers' compensation or related field, serve as ex-officio members of the Committee.
The Committee meets at least quarterly to review Program performance and to provide direction to the Program Director. The Director is located at the OCHE office and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Program.
Director, MUS Self-Funded Workers' Compensation Fund:
The Montana Legislature establishes workers’ compensation statutes (laws) through the legislative process. The Workers’ Compensation Act, (MCA 39-71) is the primary source of current workers’ compensation statute.
Until 1999 Montana statute required all state agencies, including MUS, to purchase workers' compensation coverage through the Montana State Fund. A legislative change in 1999 allowed MUS the ability to provide workers' compensation coverage through either self-insurance, private insurance, or the Montana State Fund.
The Montana Workers’ Compensation Court provides forum for the resolution of disputes arising under the Montana Workers' Compensation Act. Except for specified regulatory matters, the Court has original (trial) jurisdiction over issues arising under the Workers' Compensation Act.
The Montana Department of Labor and Industry (MT DLI) establishes rules to administer and regulate workers’ compensation insurance
in Montana and requires, with limited exceptions, employers to cover all employees
with workers’ compensation insurance. In return, employees normally cannot sue their
employer for damages when a work-related injury or illness occurs. MT DLI Rules are
generally found in the Administrative Rules of Montana.
The Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (MT CSI) is charged with protecting Montana's consumers through insurance and securities regulation and also through informing the public about insurance and securities issues. Private workers' compensation insurance companies must register with the MT CSI to do business in the state. MT CSI also has responsibilities for rate review and solvency oversight of the MT State Fund; however, MT CSI does not have a regulatory role with the MUS Self-Funded Workers' Compensation Program and other self-insurers who are regulated by MT DLI.
The Montana Board of Regents - The governance and control of the Montana University System is vested with the Board of Regents. The Board consists of six Regents, each appointed by the Governor to seven year overlapping terms and one student regent appointed to a one-year term, and confirmed by the Senate. The Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Commissioner of Higher Education are ex-officio members of the Board.
The Board of Regents issued Policy Statement 118-104-R0303 authorizing the MUS to establish a self-funded workers’ compensation program (Program) for the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Montana University System and agencies. The Board of Regents has subsequently adopted workplace safety and return-to-work policies supporting the self-funded workers’ compensation program.
The MUS Self-Funded Workers’ Compensation Committee
The Committee responsible for policy and management decisions of the MUS Workers’ Compensation Program is comprised of nine voting members, one from each of the eight participating campuses of the Montana University System, and one from the Office of Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE). The CEO of each institution designates a representative for appointment to the Committee by the Commissioner of Higher Education. Committee members serve 3-year, staggered terms and contribute expertise from Legal, Human Resources, Financial, Risk Management, Operations, or Loss Control perspective. In addition, there are three ex-officio members of the Committee: an MSU designee and a UM designee responsible for occupational safety, health and loss control, who serve non-expiring terms, and a non-university system ex-officio selected by the Committee for expertise on work comp related issues to serve a renewable one-year term.