Workers’ comp rates going up again in 2017

The average premium for workers’ compensation coverage in Washington will go up 0.7 percent effective Jan. 1, 2017, L&I has announced. That’s the average; the range for construction risk classifications runs from a 12% increase for Painting: Building and Structures Exterior Work Today to a 12% decrease for Pile Construction, Wharf, Pier and Dock Construction, Diving Operations. For the complete list of 2017 rates, click here.

AGC is concerned because, even though the average increase is small, it is more than what is necessary. L&I could have reduced rates an average of 2.4 percent and still broken even. That means the rate increase now moving ahead is 3.1% higher than necessary.

Washington is known for consistently having the highest benefits in the nation. The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) released its annual workers’ compensation report recently. For 2014 (there is a data lag), Washington’s benefit costs were the highest in the nation at $825.33 per covered worker. The states with the next-highest benefit costs were California ($776.86), Alaska ($682.06), and Wyoming ($665.56). Washington has consistently ranked first by this measure.

AGC will be supporting a slate of reform measures in 2017 to help reduce the cost of the state’s workers’ comp system. This will include occupational disease reform, structured settlement reform, benefit accuracy and simplification, and improvements to third-party claims.