(a) A compensation policy must cover all of the operations of an employer, except as hereinafter provided. An employer has the right to place insurance with more than one insurer; but if this is done with respect to distinct operations, the policies must be concurrent and the written portions must read alike. If there is any difference in coverage, it can be expressed as applying to a fractional part thereof. If an employer has more than one place of business, each operation can be covered separately unless the business is interchangeable. Each insurer on the risk must cover alike all the employees coming under the law.
(b) Any employer desiring to become a self-insurer shall apply on the form prescribed by the Self-Insurers Guaranty Trust Fund Board of Trustees and approved by the Board. All inquiries must be answered fully and will be treated as strictly confidential. The Self-Insurers Board of Trustees, with the approval of the Board, shall set the amount of security in the form of a surety bond or letter of credit to be required, but in no event shall the amount be less than $100,000.00. It shall be at the discretion of the Self-Insurers Guaranty Trust Fund Board of Trustees if other forms of security are acceptable. Each case will be considered on its own merits with strict regard to the hazards of the business involved. So long as an employer shall continue solvent and promptly pay any and all compensation legally due in accordance with the provision of the law there shall be no effort to collect under the securities.
(c) Counties, municipalities, and other political subdivisions must qualify as self-insurers or obtain insurance coverage. Permission for self-insurance by municipalities and political subdivisions may be granted by application therefor and without deposit of surety bonds security. Assurance must be given the Board, however, that provision will be made for the payment of all awards.
(d) When an insurer, self-insurer, or group self-insurance fund obtains the services of a servicing agent or third party administrator for the purpose of administering workers’ compensation matters, the insurer, self-insurer, or group self-insurance fund shall give notice to the Board on a Form WC-121 (or annual update) of the name and address of each servicing agent or third party administrator handling Georgia claims, the name, address and telephone number of a contact person with that third party administrator or servicing agent, the effective date of the servicing agent’s or third party administrator’s commencement of services, and if applicable, the ending date of those services, and shall file Form WC-121 with the Board no later than the agreed commencement date of those services. The insurer, self-insurer, or group self-insurance fund shall also give notice by regular mail or electronic mail of the servicing agent’s or third party administrator’s name, address and telephone number to the claimants in all existing claims for which it is commencing administration within 14 days of commencing services. When the relationship between the insurer, self-insurer or group self-insurance fund and the servicing agent or third party administrator is terminated, the insurer, self-insurer, or group self-insurance fund shall file Form WC-121 with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation no later than 30 days prior to the date of cessation of services, and shall give notice, by regular mail or electronic mail to all claimants in existing claims which it has been administering.
(e) Within 10 days from the date an employer determines its inability to make payment for workers’ compensation benefits, the employer shall notify its surety and the Board in writing of its inability to fulfill its obligations under the Act.
Upon receipt of information establishing an employer’s inability to meet its obligations under the Act, or upon notice from an employer that it is unable to meet its obligations under the Act, the Board shall make demand of the surety for payment of the bond or other security held. The Board shall give written notice of the demand for payment to the employer, and all claimants affected by this proceeding.
After the Board receives the proceeds of the bond or other security, then the Board shall determine whether the amount of the security is sufficient to pay all of the employer’s obligations arising under this Chapter. If it is not sufficient, the Board shall apportion the proceeds of the bond, or other security held for distribution.
The Board may enter into an agreement with a servicing agent or the Georgia Self-Insurers Guaranty Trust Fund to administer the settlement of claims pursuant to this section.
(f) Rules for third party administrators/servicing agents.
(1) A third party administrator/servicing agent must be licensed by the Office of Commissioner of Insurance pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 33-23-100 and follow the Rules and Regulations of the Insurance Commissioner’s Office Chapter 120-2-49 entitled Administrator Regulations.
(2) The third party administrator/servicing agent must comply with all sections of O.C.G.A. § 34-9 and all rules and regulations of the Board.
(3) Workers’ Compensation claim files of third party administrators/servicing agents are subject to audit by the Board at any time.
(4) The transfer of files from one third party administrator/servicing agent to another must be handled in a professional and timely manner.
(i) Open indemnity files must be current as of the date of transfer and the transferring (former) third party administrator/servicing agent must include in the file a complete current Form WC-4 (completed within the last 30 days) reflecting all payments made as of the date of transfer. The transferring third party administrator/servicing agent must at the date of transfer provide the receiving third party administrator with a payment history on all Medical Only claims with an occurrence date of 90 days or less as of the date of transfer. Penalties for noncompliance by the transferring third party administrator/servicing agent would be in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 34-9-18(a).
(ii) The receiving (new) third party administrator/servicing agent must notify all active (open) claimants of the change in administration within 14 days of receiving the files. Vendors must be notified within 60 days of receipt of medical bills or service invoices.