September 13, 2004 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company is pleased to announce Mike Barron is the new senior vice president of financial services. Barron is a certified public accountant with over 30 years of experience in finance.
Barron has served as vice president of financial operations at Texas Mutual Insurance Company since 2003. His resume includes 12 years with Big-8 accounting and consulting firms. A University of Texas graduate, Barron has also served as deputy executive director for finance and administration at the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission, deputy treasurer for the State of Texas, and chief financial officer of the Texas Teacher Retirement System.
Texas Mutual Insurance Company is the state’s largest workers’ compensation insurance provider, with offices in Austin, Houston, Dallas and Lubbock.
September 10, 2004 - East Texas Chiropractic clinic in Jasper pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor offense under the Texas Occupation Code on August 13, 2004, according to the Travis County district attorney’s office. The clinic was fined $3,000 and paid $1,732 in full restitution to Texas Mutual Insurance Company.
Felony charges against Dr. Michael T. Fleck, a chiropractor with East Texas Chiropractic, were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. Dr. Fleck has denied any wrongdoing.
September 2, 2004 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company reported today that Jaime Cano of Brownsville pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud-related charges. A Travis County judge sentenced Cano to six months of deferred adjudication and ordered him to pay a $200 fine and $3,916 in restitution to Texas Mutual Insurance Company.
Cano allegedly suffered a work-related injury. His doctor placed him in off-work status, and Texas Mutual Insurance Company began paying Cano temporary income benefits (TIBs).
Meanwhile, Cano’s employer became suspicious that he had begun working for another company while continuing to collect TIBs. State law allows injured workers to receive TIBs only while they are unable to work. The law also requires injured workers to notify the workers’ compensation insurance company when they begin working again.
Texas Mutual® staff repeatedly asked Cano if he was working while collecting TIBs, and he repeatedly denied it. Texas Mutual Insurance Company opened an investigation, which got a big break when investigator Eileen Cook received an anonymous tip that Cano had, in fact, begun working for another employer.
Cano’s new employer confirmed that he was working and provided a photo of him. Cano’s previous employer positively identified him from the photo, and Cook took the evidence to the Travis County district attorney office, which prosecuted the case.
Investigators call this sort of scam “double-dipping” because the claimant gets paid by his new employer for working and, in effect, gets paid by his previous employer’s insurance company for being too hurt to work. Double-dipping scams, if allowed to continue, can lead to a higher workers’ comp insurance premium for the first employer when the company renews its coverage.
The Cano investigation was part of the Texas Mutual® “Zero Tolerance for Fraud” policy. Texas Mutual Insurance Company maintains three teams of investigators permanently assigned to investigate every report of suspected fraud.
August 25, 2004 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company awarded the Lone Star Auto Dealers Safety Group a $109,245 group dividend yesterday. The dividend covers three policy periods from January 2001 to December 2003.
The group dividends are separate from the $50 million of general dividends that Texas Mutual Insurance Company awarded to qualifying policyholders in July. Some Lone Star Auto Dealers members may earn a share of both dividends.
Louis Wicker Inc., now the Wicker-Parker Insurance Agency of Abilene, established the group, which is open to any new car or truck dealership in Texas. Any licensed insurance agent can place a qualifying client into the group.
Each member receives a premium discount, based on an estimate of the group’s total written premium. The group also benefits from an industry-specific safety plan as well as expert claim and loss prevention services from Texas Mutual Insurance Company.
Click here for more information on Texas Mutual® Safety Group programs.
State law prohibits insurance companies from guaranteeing future dividends. Texas Mutual Insurance Company’s philosophy, however, is to reward its top groups when money is available.
August 24, 2004 -Texas Mutual Insurance Company awarded the CompGroup AGC workers’ compensation Safety Group with $1,430,035 of group dividends yesterday.
Texas Mutual® President Russ Oliver attended the dividend presentation at CompGroup AGC’s Austin headquarters. The group will deliver the dividends throughout the state to the qualifying contractors that helped make this dividend a reality.
“We are proud of the steady progress that we have made through the various insurance and construction markets over the past 11 years,” said Paul Workman, president of CompGroup AGC and owner of Workman Commercial Construction Services. “We have been fortunate to have the best contractors working together with their local AGC Chapters and Texas Mutual to share in this valuable member benefit.”
Texas Mutual® group dividends are separate from the $50 million of general dividends that Texas Mutual Insurance Company awarded to qualifying policyholders in July. CompGroup AGC members received over $1 million of that dividend disbursement. Since 1993, the group has earned over $3.7 million in dividends.
“CompGroup AGC has done an excellent job managing the growth of their group,” said Ken Lauber, Texas Mutual® vice president of field operations. “The members are constantly striving to make their workplaces safer, and we’re optimistic that this group will continue to work on improving its overall loss ratio and increase its premium volume.”
State law prohibits insurance companies from guaranteeing future dividends; however, Lauber said that Texas Mutual Insurance Company’s philosophy is to reward its top groups when money is available. The Texas Department of Insurance approves all Texas Mutual® dividends.
August 16, 2004 - For the third consecutive year, Texas Mutual Insurance Company’s website took first place in an international communications competition hosted by the American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds (AASCIF).
AASCIF includes 27 American state funds and companies, plus 11 Canadian province insurance funds. The non-profit organization hosts an annual communications contest open to all AASCIF members. AASCIF officials recruit independent media experts to serve as judges in the competition.
Since launching its website in 1996, Texas Mutual Insurance Company has introduced a host of online tools for its customers, including Internet Quoting, interim payroll reporting, loss run reports, claim detail reports, an agency information management tool, a safety resource catalog, workshop registration, news and updates.
Texas Mutual Insurance Company also received five other first-place communications awards, one second-place award, and one-third place award.
July 29, 2004 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company announced its creation of an account executive council (AEC) designed to help the company make its online services better for agents' account executives (sometimes called customer service representatives).
“We want to use these account executives’ expertise to help guide our future enhancements to our online services,” said Ken Lauber, Texas Mutual® vice president of field operations. “They can help us make our functions easier for the end-user, which will help us and their agents gain efficiencies.”
The AEC will meet periodically to discuss how Texas Mutual Insurance Company can better serve the agent community through improved workflow, company relationships, and communication. At the July meeting, the group applauded Texas Mutual Insurance Company’s current online services and discussed ways the company could continue to improve its website.
July 26, 2004 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company began distributing approximately $50 million of dividends to approximately 27,000 qualifying policyholders today. The event marks the sixth consecutive year for Texas Mutual® dividends.
A Texas Mutual® policyholder could qualify for the general dividend by maintaining a good loss ratio, by being a loyal customer for up to five years, or by meeting both criteria. Each general dividend recipient automatically qualified for a special dividend, unique to this year, as the result of exceptional financial results Texas Mutual Insurance Company earned in 2003.
“If your company receives dividends this year, I hope you will accept them as rewards for your workplace safety and loyalty,” Texas Mutual® President Russ Oliver wrote in a recent newsletter to policyholders. “We will always strive to be competitive in our pricing and services, and when circumstances allow, we will share our success with our qualifying customers.”
Oliver also noted that the general and special dividends are separate from the Texas Mutual® group purchase dividend program.
Last year, Texas Mutual® Safety Groups received approximately $1.3 million of group dividends. To date, Texas Mutual Insurance Company has awarded over $700,000 of group dividends in 2004.
JULY 9, 2004—A Travis County grand jury indicted Sergio Garcia on charges related to workers’ compensation fraud. If convicted, Garcia could face fines, restitution, and time in prison.
While working in Houston for Continental Manufacturing, a janitorial and food service products supplier, Garcia allegedly hurt his right shoulder in an on-the-job accident. Texas Mutual Insurance Company began paying Garcia temporary income benefits (TIBs) after his doctor placed him in an off-work status.
Texas Mutual® investigator Michael Bradley uncovered evidence suggesting that Garcia was working at a new job while continuing to collect TIBs for his alleged injury at Continental Manufacturing. Investigators call this sort of scam “double-dipping” because the claimant is getting paid by his new employer for working and, in effect, getting paid by his previous employer’s insurance company for being too injured to work.
Double-dipping scams, if allowed to continue, can lead to a higher workers’ comp insurance premium for the first employer when the company renews its coverage.
State law allows injured workers to receive TIBs—up to 75 percent of their weekly salary—only while they are unable to work. The law also requires injured workers to notify the workers’ compensation insurance company when they begin working again.
With every TIBs check, Texas Mutual Insurance Company includes a statement reminding the claimant that he or she must contact the adjuster if he or she returns to full-time or part-time work. Additionally, Texas Mutual® adjusters often contact claimants directly to determine their work status.
The Garcia investigation was part of the Texas Mutual® “Zero Tolerance for Fraud” policy. Texas Mutual Insurance Company maintains three teams of investigators permanently assigned to investigate every report of suspected fraud.
Note: A grand jury indictment is a formal accusation--not a conviction--of criminal conduct.