Confidential Records? With Workers’ Comp Policies, it Depends on the State

11.08.2017


By Liz Carey

An Indiana appeals court has rejected a request from LexisNexis Risk Solutions for workers' compensation records, saying the records sought, which could include data on premiums, are confidential.

The ruling comes after LexisNexis Risk Solutions sued the state for access to policy records that were previously compiled by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).

According to court records, the state contracted with NCCI in 1998 to collect policy data. In 2013, that contract shifted to the Ratings Bureau, who, pursuant to Indiana statute, collected claims data; policy data (such as policy number, policy term, employer and employee identification information), and proof of coverage data such as employer identification information, classification information, carrier information, agency identification information, premium information, and payroll data.

State law also required that the data collected by the Rating Bureau would remain confidential, and could only be shared to the Indiana Department of Insurance and the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board. The statute also prevented either the Department of Insurance and the Workers’ Compensation Board from releasing the data to third parties.

Linda Hamilton, Chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Board of Indiana, said the data was never the Board’s to give away.

“It wasn’t our data,” Hamilton said. “We only care if a business has coverage on the date an employee is injured. I’ve never had any problem giving people access to public records, but this isn’t our data to give people access to. We don’t collect the data, so we don’t have it to give it away.”

And the public wasn’t harmed by Indiana not giving LexisNexis access to the data, she said.

“The public does have access to coverage through our website,” she said. “They can see whether or not an employer has workers’ compensation coverage.”

Other states view access to the data differently.

In Florida, workers’ compensation policy data is not considered exempt and confidential for public records purposes, said Jon Moore, press secretary for the Office of Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, the office that oversees Florida’s workers’ compensation program.

In an email interview with WorkersCompensation.com, Moore said “Insurers are required to report the policy data to the Division of Workers’ Compensation.  Insurers use NCCI as their vendor to submit their policy data to the Division.”

Moore said the public in Florida can also access whether or not an employer has coverage through the proof of coverage database located online.

In Michigan, privacy of data is a big concern, said Kevin Ray in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Communications.

Ray told WorkersCompensation.com that Michigan collects its own data.

“We are always concerned with privacy protections,” he said. “We have certain specific statutory restrictions under MCL 418.230 that address data related to both claims and carrier information.”

However, he said, whether or not a company had workers’ compensation coverage was also located in a database online.

In California, data was also collected by a third party, but its release is regulated by state law. 

Peter Melton, in the Office of Communication for the Department of Industrial Relations, said “The Workers’ Compensation Information System collects information, including employer name, address, policy number, start and end date.”

State law, he said, details how the information is collected and how it is protected.


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