|SIF Administrator Zoimé Álvarez (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)
The State Insurance Fund closed 2010 with 116,380 insured Puerto Rico employers on record, the highest number reported in the agency’s 75-year history, Administrator Zoimé Álvarez said Saturday.
The total number of active policies reflects a 2 percent year-over-year growth in comparison to 2009, when a total of 114,262 were underwritten, she said.
“The fact that we have achieved the greatest number of insured employers in the history of the State Insurance Fund, especially at a time when employers face financial difficulties to meet their responsibilities, is definitely a great feat,” Álvarez said, crediting the growth to the agency’s “more proactive approach to advocacy, promotion and education of employers.”
By law, Puerto Rico’s employers must subscribe to a SIF policy to insure their workers and their families in case of injury or death while performing their job. The SIF offers injured workers medical treatment and rehabilitation, as well disability benefits. In case of death, the agency extends benefits to the employee’s surviving family members.
SIF coverage is also required for individuals who offer professional services and homeowners who hire people to perform tasks, to protect the domestic worker in case of an accident. The costs for a policy can range from $99 a year for domestic coverage to several thousand dollars annually in the case of businesses.
However, if an injured employee works for an uninsured company or individual, the SIF requires reimbursement from the employer for all expenses incurred with the injured employee.
To get more employers to sign up, the SIF offered employers a reduction of nearly 21 percent off the cost of certain policies during fiscal 2011, Álvarez said.
“It is a requirement that every employer in Puerto Rico comply with the workers’ compensation law. Only this way can employers ensure their immunity and avoid exposure to lawsuits and having to pay expensive medical bills related to injuries or accidents which may affect their employees,” said Alvarez.