MONTANA SELF INSURERS’ ASSOCIATION - MSIA
Coverage for Volunteer Fire Fighters
Coverage is available right now for volunteer fire fighters. As with anything, it costs money. Workers’ compensation provides the potential of lifetime benefits and covers all reasonable and necessary medical costs for workplace injuries and provides for lost wage benefits. As discussed above, adding the presumptive coverages, which are expensive in their own right, costs even more money.
MSIA appreciates what volunteer fire fighters do and what their service means for our communities. Some of us are volunteer fire fighters.
The issue is not providing coverage, the issue is funding the cost of coverage. Workers do not pay for workers’ compensation benefits, employers do. Volunteer employers do not have the luxury of pricing their goods and services to pay for all their expenses. They are non-profit organizations.
If we agree providing some protection for these volunteers is something we want in law, then we have the responsibility to figure out how the non-profits can pay for that coverage. We should all be willing to pay a little toward providing that protection. MSIA is willing to step up and pay our share.
MSIA supports the creation of an account within the state system to pay for workers compensation coverage for volunteer fire departments. The account would be funded by an increase in the premium taxes paid on fire insurance policies. This new revenue would be dedicated strictly to providing coverage for our volunteer fire fighters. There is a direct connection between fire insurance and funding protection for volunteer fire fighters.
If we mandate volunteer fire departments are to get coverage, we should also provide them a path to pay for it. Volunteer fire fighters do not discriminate when they go to a house fire, the funding mechanism should operate the same way. Let all who purchase fire insurance contribute to the protection of the men and women who help protect our homes.