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Workers’ comp rates to drop 5%; biggest reduction in 12 years

The following is from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries:

TUMWATER (Dec. 4, 2018) — The price of workers’ compensation insurance in Washington will take the largest drop in more than 10 years on January 1. On Monday, the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) announced a 5 percent decrease in the average amount employers pay for the coverage.

“We’re seeing fewer injuries on the job and we’ve made improvements in helping injured workers heal and return to work. That’s good news for workers and employers, and it’s helping us significantly lower workers’ compensation costs,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks.

Under the lower 2019 rate, employers will pay an average of about $58 less per employee for a year of workers’ compensation coverage. Workers will also pay less, with their share of the cost dropping by about $6 a year. The new rates take effect the first of the year.

As a result of the reduction, as a group, workers and employers will pay $136 million less in premiums in 2019.

Improving workers’ comp and helping workers heal and return to work

L&I workers’ compensation insurance covers about 2.9 million workers and nearly 180,000 employers in Washington. The department accepts more than 90,000 injured worker claims each year.

In the past five years, the projected long-term costs for the workers’ compensation system have fallen more than $2 billion thanks to a variety of department efforts. L&I programs to help injured workers heal and return to work, reduce opioid use during treatment, and provide vocational support earlier in injury claims are all helping workers while reducing costs.

Determining workers’ compensation premium rates

Each fall, L&I determines the proposed rate for the following year by looking closely at expected workers’ compensation payouts, the size of the contingency reserve, wage inflation and other financial indicators. The agency held three public hearings around Washington to take input on the rate proposal before making the final decision.

A 2.5 percent decrease last year, along with some small increases in workers’ compensation premiums since 2014, have kept rates steady and predictable, making it easier for employers to budget for workers’ compensation costs while keeping the system healthy and stable.

The 5 percent rate decrease is an average. An individual employer’s actual rate change may be more or less depending on that employer’s industry and claims history.

More information about 2019 workers’ compensation rates is available here.

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