Despite Rate Increase, Workers’ Comp Reform Should Be Top of Mind for Lawmakers

By: Florida Chamber of Commerce

 

This August, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) recommended an average Florida workers’ comp premium decrease of 9.6 percent effective January 1, 2018. This comes following two landmark Florida Supreme Court cases that brought uncertainty to the state’s workers’ compensation system and in turn raised rates by 14.5 percent in 2017.

While the 9.6 percent rate decrease is welcome and business owners should be relieved, the problem still persists.

NCCI recommended a decrease, not because of any reform or changes, but because it is using claims data from 2014 and 2015.

Unfortunately, too many groups are laying down the sword despite Florida having among the highest workers’ compensation rates in the Southeast, with rising rates leading to a $1.5 billion cost shift for Florida businesses. Various organizations and associations have openly proclaimed that the fight for reform is unlikely this year.

The truth is that business owners will soon experience sticker shock after their workers comp rates skyrocket again and they will be knocking at their lawmaker’s door, asking “Why didn’t you do something about this?”

Florida was once hailed as a leader on workers’ comp reform but our current workers’ compensation system is unsustainable for the state. Fees and claims will continue to rise, hampering Florida’s business climate and causing our 46th ranked legal system to fall even further.

A competitive and predictable workers’ compensation system that protects workers and job creators is vital to making Florida more competitive. Lawmakers should consider the long-term ramifications for the future of the state if they fail on reform this session. Hopefully, it will spark the urge to fix our broken workers’ compensation system.

Authored by Carol Roberts, President & CEO of Bay County Chamber of Commerce