Workers’ Comp Rates Set to Drop 7.5 Percent in 2020

There’s good news to share about your workers’ compensation rates. Job creators will continue to see rates drop in 2020.

The Florida Chamber’s 15-year-long fight against high workers’ comp rates has helped lead to rates dropping by more than 65 percent over the years. Fixing Florida’s workers’ comp system is a Florida Chamber priority, and it has helped lead to Florida become one of the nation’s top business climates in the country.

And today, Florida insurance regulators approved a further rate reduction – decreasing rates by an average of 7.5 percent effective January 1, 2020 for new and renewal policies. Much of the decrease is due to an improved loss experience, a decline in the frequency of claims thanks to technology, safer workplaces, improved risk management and a change in industry makeup. These trends have more than offset the increase in attorney fees due to the 2016 Florida Supreme Court decision, Castellanos v. Next Door Company.

But we can’t let our guard down.

Just last week, Senate President Designate Wilton Simpson said during the Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum that rates could be even lower if Florida hadn’t faced a $1.5 billion increase in system costs after the Court’s Castellanos decision.

That’s why the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force is continuing to stand on the front lines in protecting workers, while also working to reduce cost drivers like attorney fees.

Share Your Advice

If you believe your workers’ comp rates are still too high, sign our petition today to join with job creators as we seek solutions to Florida’s workers’ comp system. Want to learn more about cost drivers in the workers’ comp system? Click HERE to see what the state has to say.

Workers’ Comp Rates Decrease 1.8 Percent Next Month

 

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On May 1, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved a law-only filing that decreases workers’ comp rates by 1.8 percent, effective June 1, 2018.  This decrease is the result of the federal tax cut package signed into law at the end of last year, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which produced an increase to many carriers’ profit and contingency margins. In response, the National Council on Compensation Insurance filed a corresponding rate decrease to offset the increases to insurance carriers.

What This Means for You

As a result of federal tax reform, job creators will experience lowered costs of doing business in the form of needed workers’ comp rate relief. However, this relief may only be temporary. The result is modest, albeit temporary, rate relief for businesses across the state of Florida.

It is expected that the National Council on Compensation Insurance will file its annual experience filing in late summer, and rate increases could be on the horizon.  The fact remains that while businesses across the state have continued to become safer and the severity of claims have decreased, attorney fees remain a cost driver in Florida’s workers’ comp system.  Recent data by the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims show that attorney fees increased by 36 percent over the previous year, and hourly attorney fees have jumped by 200 percent.

The experience rate filing expected in late summer will start to reflect some of this new data as a result of the Florida Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Castellanos v. Next Door Company.

Join the Task Force

We need your help in pushing legislators to enact meaningful and comprehensive workers’ comp reform by addressing skyrocketing attorney fees. Join the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Workers’ Compensation Task Force by contacting Carolyn Johnson at (850) 521-1235 or cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Workers’ Comp Reform On The Move

Today, the Florida House passed several improvements to its workers’ compensation proposal out of the Commerce Committee. The Florida Chamber of Commerce was there to champion the voice of job creators and defeat trial lawyer amendments that would have taken Florida’s workers’ comp system backward.

The Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force has been actively working to resolve a $1.5 billion cost increase on the business community, and today’s legislative hearing was a positive step toward resolution. Thanks to the work of Chairman Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills), and with the support of a wide-ranging business community coalition, the bill that passed today contained a cap of $150 an hour for plaintiff’s attorneys fees, added protections for injured workers and further narrowed instances when plaintiff’s attorneys can receive fees.

Additionally, HB 7085 and a separate proposal, HB 1107, sponsored by Rep. Ben Albritton (R-Bartow), would:

  • Reduce workers’ comp rates,
  • Decrease unnecessary litigation, and
  • Protect injured workers private information from solicitors.

The Florida Chamber’s workers’ comp reform focus has been on quickly getting injured workers well and back on the job, while reducing rates and bringing stability to the overall system. This effort stands in contrast to Florida’s trial lawyer lobby, which backed amendments today that would limit employers’ abilities to defend themselves against frivolous lawsuits while allowing claimant attorney fees to run rampant without benefit accrual to the claimant.

While today was a step in the right direction, we are a long way to the finish line and fixing our broken system. We expect additional amendments to be filed on the House bill during consideration on the floor. We will continue reaching out, keeping you apprised of the latest legislative action on this important issue, and seeking your help in getting workers’ comp reform across the finish line.

Take Action Now

Learn more about the Florida Chamber Workers’ Comp Task Force, click here. To join the task force or share your concerns about this issue, contact Carolyn Johnson.

Putting Injured Workers And Job Creators First, Not Trial Lawyers Is the Right Thing To Do To Keep Florida’s Workers’ Comp System Working

 

September 29, 2016

Attention Florida business owners—in case you missed it, you are about to be hit with a workers’ compensation insurance increase that you most likely haven’t planned for, all for the benefit of Florida’s billboard trial lawyers.

This week, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved a 14.5 percent workers’ compensation rate increase that takes effect December 1 for new and renewal policies, the fallout from two damaging Florida Supreme Court decisions, Castellanos and Westphal.

A rate increase this big, this sudden, hurts Florida’s competitiveness and employers large and small. Many businesses will be forced to delay hiring – or even cut existing staff – to cover this leap in their workers’ comp premiums.

The increase is also a direct blow to Florida’s business-friendly climate and jeopardizes the 62 consecutive months of private-sector job growth we’ve experienced.

Let’s rewind back to 2003. At that time, Florida had the second-highest workers’ comp rates in the United States. These rates were threatening our state’s competitiveness. In response, the Florida Chamber of Commerce joined with then-Governor Jeb Bush to pass a series of common-sense legislative reforms.

These reforms have become a national success story. Since enactment, Florida’s workers’ comp rates dropped approximately 60 percent, while at the same time injured workers got the care they needed more quickly and were able to return to work an average 10 days sooner than in the past.

But the Supreme Court rulings, issued earlier this year, have jolted job creators and threaten to unravel all the great progress our state has made over the past 13 years.

The most damaging of the two court rulings overturned reasonable attorney fee caps that were established to stop trial lawyers from using often minor workplace injuries as a means for suing businesses in hopes of hitting the jackpot on fee awards.

Florida’s insurance regulators had little choice but to approve the sudden rate hikes we’re seeing now because they forecast that the court’s approval of runaway legal fees is retroactive and will set off a tidal wave of trial lawyers refiling old cases and concocting new ones.

The worst part of this mess is that it isn’t about improving safety or care for injured workers. It’s been thoroughly documented that the 2003 reforms succeeded in getting workers well and back to work faster, while eliminating unnecessary legal costs. The only group benefiting from this ruling is the trial lawyers.

In fact, in Castellanos, the trial lawyer argued for $38,000 in attorney fees in a case in which the injured worker was awarded only $800 – and the Supreme Court now says those fees are acceptable.

We urgently need a legislative solution to address this looming crisis. Our goal must be to ensure that injured workers continue to receive access to quality care and the court system, while providing job creators cost controls and the benefits of reining in outrageous attorney fees.

The Florida Chamber is actively leading the charge to help lower workers’ comp rates once again. Our Workers’ Compensation Task Force has been engaging Florida’s highest elected leaders, working with the brightest legal minds and coordinating with other states to develop the right solution. We are also working closely with business leaders and local chambers throughout the state to ensure that Florida’s success story does not unravel and become a nightmare again.

Putting injured workers and job creators first, not trial lawyers, is the right thing to do to keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working.

 

19.6% Workers’ Comp Rate Increase Could Jeopardize Florida’s 59 Month Job Growth Streak

Increased Costs Likely to Force Small Businesses to Choose Between Paying Higher Workers’ Comp Rates and Hiring New Employees

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (July 1, 2016) – Florida’s 59 consecutive months of private sector job growth may soon be in jeopardy as job creators prepare for a proposed 19.6 percent workers’ compensation rate increase, the Florida Chamber of Commerce said today.

The recommended 19.6 percent workers’ comp rate increase, proposed effective beginning October 1, was announced earlier today by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI,) the industry’s provider of workers’ comp analysis and rates. The increase results from two recent Florida Supreme Court rulings that deemed Florida’s attorney fee provision unconstitutional (Castellanos v. Next Door Company), and declared the current cap for temporary total disability (104 weeks) unconstitutional (Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg).

According to the release by NCCI, “NCCI estimates that the impact of Westphal will be an increase in overall Florida workers compensation system costs of +2.2%.”

If the rate filing is approved as filed increasing rates by 19.6 percent, Florida will have the highest premiums in the Southeast.

The Florida Chamber believes the Florida Legislature must address this rate increase to avoid harming Florida’s growing economy and private-sector job growth.

The Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Compensation Task Force has been engaging Florida’s highest elected leaders since last year, preparing them for this outcome, and advocating for a legislative solution. In addition to the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force meetings, eight regional meetings have already taken place, and our local chamber federation is actively engaged – assessing the impact it will have on businesses in their communities and joining efforts toward solutions.

“Small businesses create two of every three jobs in Florida, and a workers’ comp rate increase as significant as this could force these businesses to choose between paying higher workers’ comp rates and hiring new employees,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “A 19.6 percent rate increase will cause uncertainty among job creators and may even force a decline in Florida’s job growth.”

The Florida Chamber has a 13 year history of leading efforts to help lower workers’ comp rates by nearly 60 percent, and is committed to leading the charge moving forward to ensure affordable rates despite personal injury trial lawyer efforts to make more money off the system.

“It’s clear that Florida’s workers’ comp system is under attack,” Wilson added. “A legislative solution will help bring certainty back to Florida’s job creators and injured workers that Florida’s workers’ comp system is working.”

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