The State Worker

New leader takes over California workers’ compensation fund

The quasi-public State Compensation Insurance Fund has a new leader.

Insurance veteran Vernon Steiner starts in his new post on June 9 under the terms of a four-year contract that includes a $450,000 annual salary, annual bonuses of up to 30 percent of his pay and a monthly $1,500 retention payment. He will also receive a one-time signing bonus of $270,000.

Vernon joins the fund after 24 years in the insurance industry, including high-level positions with Zenith Insurance Co., CNA Financial and AIG.

He enters the stage at a pivotal moment for the fund, which provides workers’ compensation insurance to some 130,000 employers throughout California. The agency is in the midst of a massive reorganization effort that started in 2010 with layoffs and office closures that displaced employees. Those moves and others have cut fixed expenses by $300 million, the fund says.

Tuesday’s announcement comes six months after then- President and CEO Tom Rowe suddenly resigned along with the fund’s chief financial officer. The reason for their abrupt departure wasn’t explained.

Steiner’s hiring will also move Interim CEO and President Carol Newman back to her post as State Fund’s general counsel.

Although it’s staffed by state employees, State Fund operates on the profits returned from investing policyholders’ premiums. Those payments total about $1.2 billion annually. The fund has about $20 billion in assets.