Discussing cancer insurance for firefighters

Fort Oglethorpe officials discuss mandated cancer insurance for firefighters during a Dec. 11 council meeting. From left: City Manager Jennifer Payne-Simpkins, City Attorney Robert Stultz, and Councilman Derek Rogers. (Catoosa News photo/Adam Cook)

The city of Fort Oglethorpe recently joined the trend of neighboring municipalities by securing cancer insurance for firefighters, which will be state mandated beginning Jan. 1.

Earlier this year, Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 146, which requires municipalities to carry lump-sum cancer benefit and long-term disability insurance coverage for firefighters.

Catoosa County acquired the needed coverage in late November and Fort Oglethorpe City Manager Jennifer Payne-Simpkins presented her City Council with coverage options on Dec. 11.

"House Bill 146 was signed by the governor this past legislative session, and it requires cities or counties with a fire department to provide critical illness and income replacement if cancer is contracted while on the job by a firefighter," Payne-Simpkins explained. "The firefighters who contract cancer while on the job will be eligible for extra health insurance beginning Jan. 1, 2018."

The council unanimously approved coverage through the Georgia Municipal Association.

"BB&T got one quote on the city's behalf from Ace American Insurance for $11,180," Payne-Simpkins said. "GMA is also offering a policy for $8,720. We recommend using GMA's offer for lump-sum cancer benefit and long-term disability insurance."

In addition to the firefighter cancer insurance, the city also unanimously approved a new worker's compensation insurance agreement.

"BB&T Insurance Services, Inc., works with the city to write our worker's compensation insurance program annually," Payne-Simpkins said. "Three markets were approached on the city's behalf. The best pricing option was Bitco Insurance. The total cost in 2018 is $147,033. This is a savings of 3.5-percent over our 2017 cost of worker's compensation insurance that was provided."

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.