L&I is proposing an average 1.8 percent rate increase for 2015 workers’ compensation premiums. The increase comes out to about 1 cent per hour worked. Proposed rates differ considerably by construction job classification. For example the Concrete Work – Foundations and Flatwork classification would see a 12-percent increase while the Bridge Bulkhead and Tunnel Construction classification would see an eight-percent decrease.
Click here to see the proposed rates per job classification.
“This measured increase will help make sure we have a healthy workers’ compensation system that’s always ready to help workers when they need it” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “The proposal keeps with our long-term plan to keep rates steady and predictable help injured workers heal and return to work and reduce costs by improving operations. Raising rates this small amount helps keep costs in check for businesses helps our system keep up with inflation and assures that we have a reserve available for the tough times. It makes good financial sense.”
AGC applauds the steps that Director Sacks has taken to smooth out increases including the expanded State at Work program and better training for L&I claims staff. AGC notes that the actuarially indicated rate would actually be a decreased rate but that the Workers’ Comp Advisory Committee of which AGC is a member agreed years ago that contingency reserve was too low and that there was a need to increase the reserves on a gradual basis.
However AGC also notes that additional reforms could reduce claims costs even further. While the 1.8-percent increase is relatively modest Washington — which has the highest workers compensation benefits paid per covered worker in the nation — is one of the few states this year that is increasing rates rather than decreasing them. Rates are dropping in Illinois (5.5 percent) Oklahoma (considering a 7.8-percent drop) and Florida (2.5-percent proposed decrease.) Oregon is lowering its workers comp rates by 5.3 percent next year.
AGC will continue to work to expand structured settlements in lieu of lifetime pensions so that they are available to younger workers as well as other reforms in the 2015 legislative session.
L&I has set the following public hearings on the proposed rates.
• Bellingham Oct. 22 9 a.m. Whatcom Community College
• Spokane Oct. 23 9 a.m. CenterPlace Event Center
• Richland Oct. 24 9 a.m. Richland Community Center
• Tumwater Oct. 27 9 a.m. L&I Building
• Tukwila Oct. 28 9 a.m. L&I Office Gateway Corporate Center
• Vancouver Oct. 30 9 a.m. Northwest Regional Training Center
People can comment at the public hearings or in writing to Jo Anne Attwood administrative regulations analyst P. O. Box 41448 Olympia WA 98504-4148; or email joanne.attwood@Lni.wa.gov. All comments must be received by 5 p.m. Nov. 3 2014.
More information regarding the rates proposal is available at www.Rates.Lni.wa.gov. Final rates will be adopted by Dec. 1 and go into effect Jan. 1 2015.