Chamber Members Share Dividends

March 18, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — More than 220 members of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce are sharing a $440,000 dividend through the workers compensation insurance program.

Chamber COO Laurie Forte said the recent disbursement from Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, a for-profit subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield, pushes total dividends for chamber participants past $1 million over three years. The dividends reward companies with good safety procedures that result in keeping claims in check, Forte said.

Chamber members buy workers compensation insurance through agents separately, Forte explained, but join with other members to create a large enough block to qualify for dividends from the insurance company. Large companies have enough “clout” to qualify for dividends on their own, but most chamber members are small- to mid-sized operations that otherwise wouldn’t receive one.

This year’s dividends, based on the 2004-05 fiscal year, averaged more than $2,000 to members who participated. Participants also receive a 5 percent cut in premiums. Over the past three years, the dividends have ranged between 14 percent and 23 percent of premium costs, varying based on the group loss ratio.

“It’s a benefit for chamber members; certainly our small- to mid-sized members on their own wouldn’t be eligible for any kind of dividend,” Forte said.    

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