2015 workers' comp rates will be lower than first proposed

The average increase in workers’ compensation premiums in 2015 will be less than half of the amount initially proposed. L&I recently announced a final average increase of 0.8 percent.

Among construction classifications the rates will range from a 14 percent decrease for Overhead Power and Transmission Line Construction to an 11 percent increase for Excavation Road Construction Land Clearing. Click here for a list of 2015 rates for each classification.

When L&I initially proposed a 1.8 percent increase AGC acknowledged the effort of the department and Director Joel Sacks to flatten-out increases and suggested that the 2015 could be even lower considering that the breakeven rate is a negative 3.4 percent. AGC welcomes the lower rate as the change between the original 1.8 percent increase and the final 0.8 percent increase means workers and employers will keep about $20M in their pocketbooks. The 2015 increase comes out to an additional half a cent per hour worked.

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

The 2015 premium increase will help cover wage and disability benefits as well as medical costs for treatment of injuries and illnesses. It will also allow L&I to continue to build reserves to protect against the unexpected.

As wages climb the cost of providing workers’ compensation coverage rises notes L&I which is why it is using wage inflation as a benchmark for workers’ compensation rates. Washington’s most recent wage inflation number is two percent. Fortunately recent financial results for the workers’ compensation system show continued improvement helping allow for an increase lower than inflation.

L&I has several initiatives underway to improve its ability to get injured workers healed and back to work while reducing costs and improving service. Among the areas the agency is focusing on are injury prevention quality health care for injured workers support for employers who want to keep injured workers on a job and improving the workers’ compensation claims process.

The new rates take effect January 1.