Pinnacol Assurance CEO Ken Ross resigns

DENVER - Pinnacol Assurance CEO Ken Ross has resigned.

Pinnacol Assurance provides workers’ compensation insurance to approximately 55,000 Colorado businesses.

"The workers’ compensation marketplace is undergoing significant change and the years ahead will be challenging," Pinnacol officials said in a news release. "The Board will seek a chief executive with the ability to forge relationships with stakeholders that will allow Pinnacol to evolve and have the operational flexibility necessary to ensure it can continue to serve policyholders, injured workers and their families"

While Pinnacol officials thanked Ross for the past performance of Pinnacol, he also created some controversy during his tenure.

In May 2010, Ross, a number of Pinnacol agents and several members of the state-appointed board charged with oversight of Pinnacol were videotaped by 7NEWS enjoying a trip to the Pebble Beach, California resort. The trip was labeled an incentive event for Pinnacol agents and is not an uncommon practice.

But questions surrounded why three members of the Pinnacol board and their spouses were also on the $318,000 trip.

When 7NEWS tried to talk to Ross about the trip in California, there was a confrontation that eventually cost Ross a $164,000 bonus.

"Is the state of Colorado being served by this trip when your board members are here at a thousand dollars for a husband and wife to play golf?" asked Call 7 Investigator Tony Kovaleski in May 2010.

At the time, Ross threatened to break Kovaleski's finger.

A year later, Ross sat down with Kovaleski for an in-depth interview.

"I misbehaved and said things I shouldn't have. I made mistakes that I take full responsibility for. I regret those mistakes and I have learned from those mistakes," said Ross.

"When you watched [the video from Pebble Beach] the first time, what was that like?" asked Kovaleski.

"Painful," said Ross. "[The board] made that decision that I ought not get my bonus for that year based on the behavior I exhibited," said Ross. "It was a lot of money and I accepted that and I respect that decision."

Board members told Kovaleski in 2011 that Ross ran Pinnacol Assurance exceptionally well and that he had the confidence of the board.

In the news release announcing Ross' departure, Pinnacol said the company had prospered during Ross' tenure, which began in 2005. 

"Under Ken’s leadership, the company issued seven consecutive dividends and lowered rates over 50 percent between 2006 and 2010," the news release said. "During Ross’ tenure, the company’s policyholder retention rate was over 91 percent and policyholder satisfaction scores were consistently 8.8 or higher on a 10-point scale."

Officials said Pinnacol Board Vice Chairman John Plotkin will lead the company until a new CEO can be identified.