Workers’ Compensation Rate Hikes Lower than Expected for 2015

L and I attorneyThe increase in workers’ compensation premiums will now be less than half of the amount initially announced for 2015. Much of this savings can be attributed to significant improvements in third-quarter financial reports for Washington State’s workers’ compensation system. The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) factored this into the proposed rate in determining its final increase, which will be 0.8%.

The final number falls well below the 1.8% increase L&I had considered back in September. While this may seem like a small adjustment, the difference between those two rates means that workers and employers will get to keep nearly $20 million for themselves, rather than paying that money into the system as would have happened under the higher proposal. The 2015 increase comes out to about half a cent more per hour worked.

In a press release, L&I Director Joel Sacks said “We’re doing our best to keep rates steady and predictable, while making sure the workers’ compensation system stays strong. Workers can be confident that our system is going to be there, ready to help them if they’re ever hurt on the job.”

Employers and workers in Washington State pay into the workers’ compensation system so to ensure that all parties are protected if someone gets injured at work or becomes ill due to workplace exposure. Over this past year, L&I covered more than 80,000 work-related injury and illness claims within the state of Washington.

2015’s premium increase will go toward wage and disability benefits, along with medical costs for treating work injury and illness. It will also enable L&I to build stronger reserves to protect against unexpected developments from one year to the next.

As wages go up, the price tag for providing workers’ compensation coverage increases as well. For that reason, L&I uses wage inflation as its benchmark for setting workers’ compensation rates each year. The state’s most recent wage inflation hike was 2%. Luckily, the recent financial data for the workers’ compensation system indicated continued improvement, which contributed to an increase below current inflation rates.

L&I has a number of initiatives to enhance its ability to put injured workers back on the job and ensure their full recovery while pushing down costs and improving service. Among the areas where the agency has focused its injury prevention efforts are better quality healthcare for workers, assistance to employers who makes an effort to keep injured workers on the job, and making improvement to the workers’ compensation claims process.

The new L&I rates take effect January 1. More information is available at www.Lni.wa.gov/Rates.

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Workers’ compensation facts:

  • L&I is the state’s primary workers’ compensation insurance provider, covering 2.4 million workers and more than 160,000 employers.
  • The 0.8 percent increase is an average. An individual employer’s actual rate change may be more or less depending on that employer’s industry and history of claims that result in wage replacement and/or disability benefits.
  • More than 80,000 claims are accepted each year through the Washington State Workers’ Compensation State Fund.

 

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Emery Reddy