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October 11, 2001

Head of Workers' Comp Board thanks business for help on terrorism

The head of New York's Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) praised New York businesses for their flexibility and aggressiveness on workers' comp claims stemming from the Sept. 11 terrorism.

Robert Snashall, chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board, spoke at the Oct. 10 meeting of The Council's Workers' Compensation Committee in Albany.

In the days after the attack, Snashall noted, the board contacted employers, insurance carriers, and third-party administrators to encourage them to join the board in expediting the claims process for victims and their families.

The response, he said, has been consistently favorable.

"Our relationship with business has really flourished over the last month as we faced the enormity of this horrific tragedy," Snashall said.

Snashall outlined activities the board began in response to the tragedy. (See related item, page 2.)

He noted, for example, that the board has created new computer programs to segregate WTC-related claims from other non-WTC claims.

This lets the board focus on WTC disaster claims without affecting the efficient processing of other, more typical cases, the board said in a release.

The board also established three toll-free telephone numbers to give callers around-the-clock information on workers' comp claims. And it established a new help center at Pier 94 in Manhattan to provide face-to-face help to families of victims.

The board has also given special training to 35 of its most experienced claims processors to help them work on disaster claims.

Snashall noted that many different types of claims stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks are likely to be filed for many years, and he invited business to offer ideas for improving the state's workers' comp processes.

He noted, for example, that the board is already considering if some process improvements created after the attacks should be institutionalized and applied to future cases.

"The entire board is committed to seeing that the workers' compensation system in New York State continues to become more efficient for the workers who rely upon our services and the employers who finance this very important organization," Snashall said.

Richard Bell and Peter Molinaro, executive director and general counsel of the board, respectively, also spoke at the committee meeting.