Tentative Workers’ Comp Rate Proposal Announced

By: Carolyn Johnson

On August 28, 2017, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) recommended a 9.6 percent workers’ comp rate decrease to Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation, effective January 1, 2018. If approved, this decrease is temporary relief for Florida job creators who faced a 14.5 percent increase that took effect earlier this year.

While we are still reviewing the specifics of the rate proposal, of particular interest to job creators is the decision by NCCI to only utilize 2014 and 2015 claims data for this rate proposal. This means that claims from 2016, which were not subject to trial attorney fee caps overturned by the court in last April’s Castellanos decision, are largely not included in the rate proposal.

In April 2016, Florida’s activist Supreme Court ruled against small businesses and injured workers and in favor of trial lawyers in Castellanos. By throwing out Florida’s attorney fee structure, the cost of lawsuits have increased significantly, and in some instances, trial lawyers are receiving attorney fees as high as $400 an hour.

During the 2017 session, the Florida Legislature failed to pass meaningful workers’ comp reform, despite the $1.5 billion cost this rate increase had on job creators, their employees and customers. The Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force has been working over the summer to improve upon last year’s legislation in the hopes of getting the Legislature to act in 2018. Unfortunately for businesses, until the Legislature passes reforms, costs can continue to increase. And while a rate decrease would be great news for businesses, it doesn’t make the chances of meaningful workers’ comp reform next session more favorable.

This rate still must be approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation. The Florida Chamber will continue to keep you informed of ongoing ratemaking process and legislative action.

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