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New supplemental income program available for volunteer firefighters

By Brandy McAllister, RMF Legal Counsel

The Association of Arkansas Counties Workers’ Compensation Trust (AACWCT) is excited to announce a new supplemental income program that will be available to volunteer firefighters who enroll beginning in January 2020 — The Association of Arkansas Counties Volunteer Fire Fighters Supplemental Income Program.

Under current workers’ compensation laws, when a volunteer firefighter is injured while carrying out their volunteer firefighter duties, they receive a maximum payment of $20 per week for lost wages, for time in which they are unable to work due to the injury. This means that even though they may be losing wages from paid employment (full-time or part-time), those wages are not taken into consideration for their workers’ compensation benefits as a volunteer firefighter. This program was created to help fill a need in this area. For firefighters whose departments sign up for the supplemental income program, they will now be able to receive lost wages based on income from their current paid employment. This means that instead of receiving a maximum of only $20 a week in lost wages, they can now receive a total weekly lost wage (indemnity) benefit up to the maximum amount allowed by law based on income from their current paid employment, for up to 52 weeks.

There is also an additional death benefit provided under this program. There will be a single, one-time payment of $10,000, which will be paid to an eligible dependent under the workers’ compensation laws, if death occurs as a result of a compensable workers’ compensation claim. This one-time payment is in addition to the funeral expenses already provided for volunteer firefighters under Arkansas law.

To be eligible for this program, the fire department must already be covered by a participating member of the AACWCT. Then the fire department may sign up for the program by enrolling all volunteer firefighters in the department. If you are not sure if your fire department is a member of the AACWCT, call Kim Mitchell at (501) 375-8805 to confirm.

If the fire department already purchases one or more lines of coverage by the Association of Arkansas Counties Risk Management Fund (AACRMF), then the premium is only $20 per firefighter. The minimum annual premium amount is $240, which will apply to fire departments that don’t have at least 12 firefighters to enroll. For fire departments that do not participate in any of the lines of coverage offered by the AACRMF, the premium is still only $30 per firefighter, with a minimum annual premium amount of $360, which will apply to all fire departments who don’t have at least 12 firefighters to enroll. The lines of coverage offered by the AACRMF that qualify for the program discount are auto and property. If you do not already participate in one of these programs and are interested in the discount, give us a call so we may provide you with a quote for your vehicles and/or property.

The annual premium for the supplemental income program will be based on the roster received at the time of enrollment. Volunteer firefighters that are added during the policy term will be automatically covered with no additional payment until the next enrollment term. Coverage will cease for each covered volunteer when they leave the fire department. If a fire department signs up to enroll in the program after Jan. 1, 2020, coverage will be effective upon receipt of the completed roster and payment of premium.

If you are already covered by the AACWCT, and you would like to increase the lost wage benefit available to your volunteer firefighters, give us a call to get started in this supplemental income program. There is no better way to show your appreciation for those who risk so much than to provide them maximum coverage in the event of an injury while volunteering.

For more information about the supplemental income program, contact AAC Risk Management Management Fund Director Debbie Norman at (501) 375-8247.

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