Florida Insurance Commissioner Approves Rate Decrease For Workers' Compensation, Cautions That Rate Increases Might Come Soon

                               

Tallahassee, FL (CompNewsNetwork) - Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty issued a final order approving the National Council on Compensation Insurance's (NCCI) amended rate filing for workers' compensation insurance rates that will become effective Jan. 1. The rate decrease marks the sixth consecutive drop in worker's compensation rates since 2003, the year the Florida Legislature passed sweeping reforms of the workers' compensation system.
 
However, the rate decrease does not contemplate potential increases that could result from the Oct. 23 Florida Supreme Court decision in the Murray v. Mariner case. That ruling interprets attorney fees provisions in the workers' compensation statute.
 
“The reduction of attorney participation in workers' compensation cases has been cited as one of the significant causes of the reduction in rates since the 2003 legislative reforms,” said Commissioner McCarty. “Limitations on attorney fees have helped Florida employers to realize a significant savings on their workers' compensation insurance.”
 
In an Oct. 15 order, Commissioner McCarty requested the NCCI to make an amended filing to reduce the rates of workers' compensation insurance in Florida by 18.6 percent, an additional 4.5 percent reduction from the originally proposed 14.1 percent decrease. The final 18.6 percent reduction is estimated to produce a savings of more than $610 million for Florida employers.
 
"This is very good news for Florida employers,” added Commissioner McCarty. “The additional reduction in rates will mean a significant amount of added savings for them.”

With this rate change, the cumulative overall statewide average rate decrease since 2003 will be more than 60 percent. 
 
The overall average rate impact at an industry group level will be as follows:
 
                                                Percent Change
 
Industry Group           1/1/09 Filing    Cumulative 10/1/03–1/1/09
Manufacturing                          -19.8                                    -58.0
Contracting                                -19.2                                   -61.2
Office and Clerical                   -20.6                                   -60.9
Goods and Services                -18.9                                    -60.7
Miscellaneous                          -13.6                                    -59.4
TOTAL                                     -18.6                                    -60.5
 
In addition, the approved decrease of 18.6 percent now is the largest one-year decrease on record, following the two previous largest decreases – 18.4 percent for 2008 and 15.7 percent for 2007. The last six filings represent the largest consecutive cumulative decrease on record in Florida workers' compensation rates – dating back to 1965.
 
In requesting the NCCI to amend its filing, Commissioner McCarty cited disagreements with the methodology the NCCI used to calculate the profit factors and trend factors. Trend factors incorporate changes in wages, paid losses and claim frequency.
 
Prior to the legislative reforms, Florida consistently ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the country for the highest workers' compensation rates; however, post-reform Florida has dropped out of the top 10 rankings.


The NCCI, which produces and files rates for insurers in many states, said the rate decline was primarily due to a significant drop in claims frequency and a reduction in the costs of claims.
 
The workers' compensation reform law instituted provisions for enhanced fraud compliance and revised permanent and temporary disability definitions. It also set new parameters for attorney and physician compensation and improved dispute resolution procedures, in addition to making many other improvements to the system.
 
The Office expects the NCCI to make a new filing in support of the rate impact that it (NCCI) believes will result from the Murray case.


About the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) has primary responsibility for regulation, compliance and enforcement of statutes related to the business of insurance and the monitoring of industry markets. Business units within the Office are organized based on regulatory expertise and include the areas of life and health, property and casualty, specialty lines and other regulated insurance entities. It is within the Office that the mission of public protection is implemented through regulatory oversight of insurance company solvency, policy forms and rates, market conduct performance and new company entrants to the Florida market.

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