California: Solutions Sought for Worker's Comp Crisis

Various industry groups continue to work together to alleviate the workers' compensation crisis in California. Current contracts held by about 300 trainers in the state were set to expire March 1.

A meeting in Northern California was scheduled for Feb. 25 between representatives from the California Horse Racing Board, California Thoroughbred Trainers, and the Thoroughbred Owners of California, among others. The TOC reported that some trainers met Feb. 24 at Santa Anita Park to discuss the matter.

CHRB chairman Alan Landsburg appointed a committee to discuss the situation with the California insurance commissioner's office.

Legion Insurance Co. of Pennsylvania informed policyholders, which make up the majority of racing stables in California, their premiums would not be renewed. Workers' compensation rates have jumped about 80% the past three years.

In California, trainers cover jockeys and exercise riders under one policy. Because of that, "all of the industry is considered high-risk," said Charlie Dougherty Jr., deputy director of the CTT.

Dougherty said the CTT had attempted to work on a joint program with racetracks, but it didn't work out. Now, he said, the "momentum is going again for us to put together a program. I think the racetracks realize we're reaching a crisis stage."

Trainers can obtain coverage through the State Fund, but those costs are higher than those of Legion.