Portland, ME – Monday, November 13, 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of the incorporation of Maine Employers’ Mutual Insurance Company (MEMIC), now considered the keystone of Maine’s stable workers’ compensation insurance market. Throughout 2018, the company plans to celebrate a variety of milestones, a quarter century after the near-collapse of Maine’s workers’ compensation market in the early 1990s.
“There were many skeptics yet, here we are, strong and growing. Interestingly, it really is by coincidence that today we are beginning the distribution of a $21 million dividend back to more than 18,000 Maine employers,” said Michael P. Bourque, president and chief executive officer of the company.
Bourque said that this year’s dividend brings the total policyholder returns to more than $240 million since 1998.
“The cost of workers’ compensation insurance in Maine in 1992 was more than twice the national average and a crushing burden to employers throughout the state,” Bourque said. “There were far too many workplace injuries and protracted litigation was the standard remedy. Most insurers bailed out, leaving the state rather than face financial losses. Finally, then-Governor John McKernan was able to focus everyone’s attention on the unsustainable costs, both human and financial, to the Maine economy. A bi-partisan compromise in the legislature arrived at a process that would set Maine on a course of affordable and rational workers’ compensation insurance.”
That compromise included empaneling a blue ribbon commission that studied other systems across the country. The commission concluded that a new system that minimized conflict and tied safe workplaces to lower costs would be the foundation of future success. Central to that solution was the formation of a mutual insurance company owned and governed by Maine employers. Though a private company, MEMIC was created as the guaranteed market, providing Mane employers with a Maine-based insurer to protect them with workers’ compensation insurance.
Today, workplace injuries in Maine have been reduced by about 40 percent while the cost has decreased by more than 50 percent. Maine’s cost of workers’ compensation insurance is competitive with most states. Bourque credits much of the success to emphasizing workplace safety and fair treatment of all workers.
“MEMIC is essentially a large self-insured group in which policyholders share in the risk as well as the financial rewards,” said Bourque. “We are looking forward to celebrating what we like to call ‘The Miracle in Maine’ and honor all those who have made it possible.”
Now, known as The MEMIC Group, the company is rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best. The group is licensed across the country and maintains offices in Manchester, NH; Glastonbury, CT; Albany, NY; Weehawken, NJ; West Conshohocken, PA; Tysons Corner, VA; and Tampa, FL; in addition to its headquarters in Portland, ME. Altogether, the group today insures more than 20,000 employers and their estimated 300,000 employees, and holds more than $1.3 billion in assets.