HELENA, Mont. -

The Montana State Fund has approved a $12 million dividend to be distributed among its policyholders.
    
State Fund officials say the dividend the board approved on Nov. 15 is the largest is has ever declared. This is the 15th consecutive year the State Fund has returned dividends to safety-conscious employers.
    
The State Fund issues workers' compensation insurance to over 26,000 employers in Montana. State Fund spokeswoman Mary Boyle says about 23,000 employers who had policies between July 2010 and June 2011 are eligible for a share of the money. They will receive an average of $578, but the money is split based on each policyholder's premiums and yearly claims.
    
Last year, the State Fund dividend was $10 million. Officials say average premium rates have dropped by one-third since 2007.