06/06/2006 11:00PM

Louisiana insurance shifts

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In a sweeping change, the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association will begin serving as the regulatory body of workers' compensation coverage for trainers in the state of Louisiana on July 1.

New legislation in the state has enabled the Louisiana horsemen's group to negotiate a single group policy for workers' compensation on behalf of all trainers. In the past, trainers had to secure their own individual policies, which were then submitted to the Louisiana Racing Commission.

"This is intended to eradicate the ongoing problem of rising workers' comp rates for trainers in the horse racing industry," said Sean Alfortish, president of the Louisiana horsemen's association. "It's basically a comprehensive yet simple plan to where all of the trainers are covered as a group."

Alfortish said the program calls for trainers to make a nonrefundable $1,200 deposit before starting a horse in the state. Those funds, due on an annual basis, will cover a trainer's first 20 starts in a given year. Alfortish said the cost for starters thereafter is $60 per horse. He said his goal in the next few years is to reduce that cost to $30.

Alfortish said that when trainers secure insurance individually, the national average is $23 per $100 of payroll. As part of the group policy, the cost will average $10 or less per $100 of payroll, said Alfortish.

In another policy change, Louisiana Downs and the Louisiana horsemen's association have agreed to a contract in which purses on all races will be paid back to ninth place. The policy is scheduled to begin with the third condition book at Louisiana Downs.