What is OSHA and how does it impact Workers Compensation?

OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This government organization is part of the United States Department of Labor. It is the department within the government in charge of the safety and health of workers in the workplace. If you have employees in your business, you need to know about regulations. Any business with one or more employees must comply with OSHA regulations. Here is some information about the history and the three main aspects of the organization.

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OSHA was created in 1970 as part of the OSHA Act. This act created to ensure safe and healthful working conditions, as well as to to preserve human capital throughout the workforce of the United States. One primary aspect the training and education of OSHA focuses on is accident prevention. Prior to this act, there were no laws in place to specifically address safety and health in the workplace. Congress created this act in response to workplace accidents amounting to 14,000 worker deaths annually. Since its inception, OSHA has cut the work-fatality rate by more than half. There are three tactics the organization uses to improve workplace safety throughout the United States:  Education, Training and Enforcement.

Hse, Osha, Health, Safety, Cleaning

Education

One aspect of OSHA that far too many businesses do not realize is their focus on Education and Training. The OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Center Program was created in 1992 as a response to a growing number of requests for training from private sector personnel and Federal personnel from other agencies increased throughout the 1980’s. The two most popular courses currently include the #500 Trainer Course in Occupational Safety and Health Standards for the Construction Industry and #501 Trainer Course in Occupational Safety and Health Standards for General Industry. Additional courses include topics such as Hazardous Materials, Machine Guarding, Ergonomics, Confined Space, Excavation, Electrical Standards and Fall Arrest Systems.

Training

OSHA is most known for enforcement and instituting fines, but arguably the most important part of OSHA is Employee Training. As part of its duty to keep the workforce safe and productive, OSHA requires all businesses to create an emergency action plan and take steps to set up a training program to train all employees in all aspects of the OSHA plan. What must be included in this plan is how to deal with hazardous substances, blood-borne pathogens, emergency situations, and what to do if an inspector comes to your workplace.

Enforcement

In addition to education and training, OSHA is tasked with enforcement. This is what the organization is most known for. Officials can issue fines ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars for violations, and they can refer violators for criminal prosecution if they deem such action is warranted. Any business with employees must comply with regulations. If your small business had 10 or fewer employees during the last year, you don’t have to file an injury or illness reports, but you still must comply with all other regulations. It is the responsibility of the business owner to ensure their business and all employees are trained to be in compliance with OSHA Regulations.

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California Workers Comp Rates 2020 are Declining 5.7%

Marking 5 Consecutive Years of Continuing Declines

California Workers Comp Rates 2020 are going to cost the business community less. This is because in August of 2019, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) voted to lower Workers Comp Pure Premium Rates by an average of 5.7% below the rates of 2019. In 2019 Rates were down 23.5 percent compared to what businesses paid in 2018.  This year marks the fifth year of declines and the ninth consecutive biannual decrease dating all the way back to 2015. These decreases mark a total decline of approximately 44 percent.

Golden Gate Bridge, Usa, America, Bridge

What is contributing to Declining California Workers Compensation Rates in 2020?

As of  Jan. 1, 2020 advisory pure premium rates are $1.58 per $100 of payroll. This represents a significant decline of 5.7% compared to California Workers Comp Rates 2019. These declines are continuing because of continued downward loss development, claim settlements accelerating, declining pharmaceutical costs, as well as a decline in the number of filed liens. When this many factors are improving, insurance carriers are able to pass some of those savings on to the businesses purchasing coverage.

California Forest, Nature, Tree, Landscape, Redwood

What is limiting the declines from being larger?

California still suffers from the most expensive workers comp rates in the entire country. There are numerous reasons rates remain high despite multiple years of declining premium. In the filing, the WCIRB also noted that factors such as increases in cumulative trauma claims, rising claim severities and continued high levels of allocated loss adjustment expenses are moderating the pure premium rate declines and warrant continued monitoring.

Point Arena Lighthouse, Light, Pacific Ocean, California

Information about Inclusions and Exclusions for California Workers Comp

In the state of California, all employers are required to purchase workers comp regardless of the number of employees. Sole Proprietors are not automatically included for coverage and are not required to carry coverage on themselves. SOle Proprietors are allowed to be included if they so choose by using the Acord 130 application. Partners are automatically included for coverage and are not allowed to be exempt. Corporate Officers, who are the sole shareholder, are excluded from coverage. LLC Members who work within the business are included for coverage unless the elect to be covered using the Acord 130 form.

Payroll Requirements for California Business Owners in 2020

The Payroll Requirements for Sole Proprietors who decide to include themselves for coverage is a minimum payroll amount of $52,000 and a maximum of $133,900 for rating purposes (As of 01/01/2019). Partners, Officers and LLC Members who are included for coverage must utilize a minimum payroll of $52,000 and a maximum of $133,900 for the purpose of rating workers comp premium (As of 01/01/2018).

 

Alaska Workers Compensation Rates in 2019 are going down!

The Largest Decrease for Workers Comp Insurance Premium in 40 years for Alaska Business Owners

In 2019, Alaska Workers Compensation Insurance Rates are expected to fall the most they have in 40 years. The governor office announced this past October that workers’ compensation insurance premiums should decrease by an average of 17.5 percent statewide starting the first of January.  This decrease follows a 5.4 percent decrease in 2017 and workers’ compensation premiums are down roughly 25 percent since 2015. These reductions amount to an estimated $35 million in savings for the Alaska Business Community. According to Alaska Governor Bill Walker, “These proposed rate reductions are welcome news for Alaska businesses — lower workers’ compensation costs reduce the burden on the small businesses that strengthen our economy,” Walker said in a formal statement. “Thank you to the Alaska state Legislature and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development for their work on payment reform, contributing to significant rate reductions for 2019.”

Mount McKinley, Denali National Park, Alaska

What Caused Alaska Workers Compensation Insurance Rates to Decline?

There were a number of factors that contributed to the large decline in Alaska Workers Compensation Insurance Rates. Claim frequency and favorable medical costs continued to decline in 2018 which were two of the major factors contributing to declining rates. The claims frequency means that across the board there were less claims filed in 2018 compared to previous years. This is a favorable measurement for insurance carriers because this decreases the costs related to paying out insurance claims and processing those claims. Declining medical costs is largely because of streamlined processes throughout the medical facilities operating within the workers compensation system.

There was also legislation passed in 2018 that will contribute to lower rates in 2019 and for the foreseeable future. The legislation was House Bill 79 (HB79). the legislation clarified who is classified as an independent contractor and who needs to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. This bill made it easier to obtain exemptions, to acquire reporting data, and to make payments.

Alaskan Cruise Ship

What can Business Owners do to Maximize Alaska Workers Compensation Insurance Rates?

There are many ways a business owner can save, in addition to the savings the Alaska Business Community is receiving from workers compensation premiums declining. Here are 5 things a business owner can act upon to maximize savings on Alaska Workers Compensation Insurance.

  • Make sure your Business is Classified Properly
  • Implement a Safety Program
  • Incorporate a Return-to-Work Program in the Safety Program
  • Consider Pay-as-You-Go Workers Compensation
  • Partner with an Independent Insurance Agent

Proper Classification Codes

In any given year, there are more than 700 different classification codes for businesses and employees to use when it comes to workers compensation insurance. Making sure your business is classified correct is a step that can save a lot of headaches during a mid term or end of term audit. Proper classification can prevent your business from over or under paying premium throughout the year. If you under pay throughout the year, it can cause your business to owe additional premium at the end of the term. Even if your business over pays through out the year and gets a credit on their policy, it means your business has had unnecessary cash flow tied up in workers comp premium payments. This is money that could be used on other necessary business needs.

Well-Documented Safety Program

A safety program can help a small business lower what they pay for commercial insurance by decreasing the frequency and severity of workers compensation insurance claims. The safety program does not have to be exhaustive. It can be as small as part of the new staff training program and a few 15 minute huddles each week. It is important to have these meetings documented. Your insurance agent can use this documentation to get you an additional discount when purchasing coverage. The documentation can also be used when a business experiences a year in which there are several claims or one large claim. Usually when this occurs your can expect your insurance premium to rise. If you have a documented safety program, your independent insurance agent can use it to show the claims are more of an outlier and not a sign of more claims to come.

A Return-to-Work Program

A return to work program is a great way to show your employees you care about them and help them get back to their daily routine quicker. When executed properly, a return to work program can help get your injured workers back on the job, even in a limited capacity, and back a part of their regular work routine. This is the best way to keep insurance claims under control and help keep your experience modification rating low.

Pay-as-You-Go Option

Some businesses may benefit from Pay as You Go Workers Compensation. Most traditional workers comp policies require 25 to 33 percent of the entire premium up front just to get coverage in place. With the Pay as You Go Option, most businesses can get coverage in place for as little as a few hundred dollars. This allows cash strapped businesses to get coverage in place, but use their needed cash flow for other more urgent business needs.

Partner with an Independent Agent

An independent agent is always the best way to find the most comprehensive insurance coverage at the lowest rate possible. Especially if the independent agent has several years of experience and relationships with multiple insurance carriers. They can use this knowledge and these relationships, to know which carriers are actively looking to quote your industry and and force carriers to compete for your business.

Oregon Workers Comp Rates are Declining in 2019

A 9.7 % Decrease Marks 6 Consecutive Years of Declining Oregon Workers Compensation Rates

Workers Compensation Rates for the business community within the state of Oregon are declining by an average of 9.7 percent in 2019. The rates went in to effect the first of January and they mark the 6th consecutive year that workers comp rates have declined for Oregon Business Owners. Over this six year period Oregon Workers Compensation Rates have declined by 40 percent from 2013 to 2019. The average pure premium rate will be $1.12 per $100 of payroll for workers compensation coverage. In 2018 this rate was $1.28 per $100 in payroll. Comparatively, the cheapest state for coverage is in Texas at $0.75 and the most expensive state in Alaska at $2.74. As of 2018, the last year rankings were made, the state of Oregon was the 45th least expensive state to purchase coverage.   Utah, West Virginia, Arkansas, Indiana, and North Dakota are the only states that have cheaper rates than the state of Oregon.

Portland, Oregon

Why are Oregon Workers Compensation Rates declining in 2019

There are several contributing factors to declining workers comp rates for Oregon Businesses. Lower medical care costs and less severe claims in recent years are two of the strongest contributing factors. Cameron Smith, Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) Director, “Everyone from employers and workers to insurers and government has played a role in making workplaces safer and keeping business costs low.  As the numbers show, Oregon’s comprehensive approach continues to pay off.”

There are additional measures that are contributing to positive rates in recent years. The Workers Compensation Division for the state of Oregon have increased several efforts that include enforcing employers to carry insurance, keeping medical costs under control, and helping injured workers return to work sooner. Additionally, in Oregon the state government has recently put a focus on preventing on-the-job injuries by enforcing workplace safety and health rules, as well as advising employers about how to improve worker safety and health. Governor Kate Brown stated, “Oregon continues to demonstrate that it’s possible to maintain low employer costs while providing strong support to workers. We must remain committed to working together to balance employer rates and worker benefits, and to help injured workers heal and return to work quickly.”

Oregon Business Owners enjoy a strong workers compensation system that provides the state with favorable rates on premium, but business leaders should still look to maximize savings. Partnering with an independent insurance agent is always the best way to get comprehensive coverage at rock-bottom rates.

Kentucky Workers Compensation Rates are Declining by 10.8 % in 2019

The Business Community in Kentucky Will be benefiting from improved Workers Compensation Rates in 2019

In Kentucky, the business community will pay significantly less for Workers Compensation Premium next year. The rates will actually be 10.8 percent less in 2019. The decline in premium will apply predominantly to the industries of manufacturing, office, clerical, and contracting. These means some industries will see less of a decrease and some industries may see no decline at all.  No matter what industry a business operates in, the business community overall will benefit from better Kentucky Workers Compensation Rates 2019.

Kentucky Bluegrass on a Horse Farm.

Why are Kentucky Workers Compensation Rates Declining in 2019

There are a number of reasons why Kentucky Workers Compensation Rates in 2019 will be declining by more than 10 percent.  Some reasons contributing to the decline in premium throughout Kentucky is stability in written premium, lower combined ratios throughout the state, and lower loss-time claim frequency.  This means the number of businesses buying workers comp coverage is the same or increasing compared to the previous years. The experience modification ratings of the businesses operating in the state are lower. This low rating comes from businesses operating safely and filing less claims. The lower loss-time claim frequency means workers who have been injured have been able to get back on the job fairly quickly, lowering the amount the workers compensation system has had to pay out for claims.

Additionally, the strongest factor contributing to declining workers comp premium rates is House Bill 2.  According to the Department of Insurance Commissioner Nancy Atkin, “much of the decrease in costs to the passage of House Bill 2, which made significant reforms to the workers’ compensation system for the first time in over twenty years”. Many of the statutes in the previous workers compensation system were ruled unconstitutional by the state supreme court. These rulings brought about instability throughout the workers compensation market in the state. House Bill 2 stabilized that market.

Bourbon Barrels holding Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Kentucky Workers Compensation System Over Haul

House Bill 2 passed in 2018.  This was the first attempt to make significant changes to the workers compensation system in the state of Kentucky in more than 20 years. Jeffrey Junkas, assistant vice president, state government relations for PCI said, “House Bill 2 is designed to help contain underlying costs and improve the state’s workers compensation system.  HB 2 makes changes impacting medical expenses and benefits. It also takes steps to address the opioid crisis with an evidence-based pharmaceutical formulary and medical treatment guidelines to ensure timely delivery of appropriate medical care to injured workers.”

In addition, the bill increases the maximum compensation rates for employee temporary total disability, permanent total disability, and permanent partial disability benefits. It improves access to vocational rehabilitation services, and makes improvements in the dispute resolution system. These changes will improve efficiency of the system and provide better services to both businesses and injured workers.

One big difference to the system that was brought on during the overhaul in 2018 was a 15-year benefit cap from the date of injury.  This cap would apply only to workers who meet certain conditions and are filing claims for permanent, partial disability because of on-the-job injuries. Many of these workers eventually return to the labor force and do not collect the full 15 years worth of benefits. Currently, they are entitled to medical benefits for the duration of the disability. This could be for the rest of their life in some situations. House Bill 2 does allow injured workers who meet these conditions to file for recertification. If they are approved the new system would allow them to continue receiving medical benefits.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

What Can Kentucky Business Owners do to Maximize Savings?

Depending upon the class code and the experience modification rating of an individual business the rating may be larger or smaller than the average decrease. There are a number of things a business can do to control what they pay for workers compensation insurance premium.

Safety Programs

Safety Programs are the single most effective way to limit what a business pays for commercial insurance. Separate from what it does for the businesses bottom-line, it is simply the right thing to do. Taking care of the health and well-being of your employees and customers should be at the heart of any businesses mission. Taking care of your staff will allow them to be more productive while also lowering the frequency and severity of insurance claims made by the business.

Light Duty Work

The best way to get employees back on the job and back to full-time work is to have light duty work prepared for those employees. Humans are creatures of habit and our work day routine is a big part of our most employees routine. The longer an injured worker stays off the job, the longer they have to create new habits away from the job. Having a plan for many types of light duty work in order to get injured workers back on the job and back in to their workday routine.

Classify Properly

In order to maximize savings when it comes to all forms of commercial insurance, it is important to first make sure all employees are classified properly. Many businesses have employees who partake in drastically different areas of the business. Some of those businesses have employees who work in office or clerical work, other employees who are salesman who spend a lot of time out at third party locations, and still other employees who work doing physical labor. All of these employees need to be placed in the proper classification code and their payroll needs to be strictly measured.

Shop Around Your Policy

In order to maximize savings, it is important to shop around your policy periodically. It is not a good idea to switch carriers each year based upon a small decline in premium. Long term relationships still do mean something when you have to file a claim.  At the same time, it is important to make sure your carrier is competitive with the market.

Use an Independent Agent

Shopping around your insurance policy can be a time consuming endeavor. If your time is valuable, partnering with an independent insurance agent can be a way to get multiple quotes from multiple carriers all in one place. Partnering with an independent agent can allow you to get back to running your business while the insurance agent shops your policy so you don’t have to.  This can maximize savings while getting your business more comprehensive coverage.

Connecticut Workers Compensation Rates are Going Down in 2019

17% Decrease for Workers Comp Rates in Connecticut

Connecticut Workers Compensation Rates will be declining in 2019 by an average rate of 17 percent. Marking the fifth straight year rates have declined throughout the state of Connecticut. Over the past five years rates have declined by an average of 3, 4, 11, and 14 percent. Altogether, these decreases amount to the Connecticut Business Community paying 50 percent less than five years ago. According to Katharine L. Wade, the Connecticut Insurance Commissioner, “This steady drop – nearly 50 percent over the last five years – has helped business owners with one of their critical operating costs – workers’ compensation insurance.”

Rustic Barn in the Scenic Connecticut Countryside

What Contributed to Declining Connecticut Workers Comp Rates

A number of factors have contributed to the significant decline in Workers Comp Rates. In relation to the reasons for the decline Wade said, “The rates reflect an ongoing decrease in the number of workplace injuries and claims filed. We are also seeing, on average, lower medical costs per claim.” The decrease in workplace injuries is predominantly related to business owners throughout the state of Connecticut paying more attention to workplace safety. The state is also seeing lower medical costs per claim.

Additionally, a consistent decline in claim frequency since 2010 and per case indemnity costs continue a slow but consistent decline, from $31,611 in 2013 to $29,193 in 2016. An indemnity claim protects an employee against damages. The Workers Comp Policy offers medical coverage, lost-wage replacement, permanent disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and even death benefits for family members. Within the insurance industry, professionals categorize claims into two classes: indemnity and medical-only. An indemnity claim occurs when an employee becomes injured on the job and cannot return to work until the injury heals or the injury becomes permanent. A medical-only claim applies when the employee immediately returns to work after the injury.

USB Building in Stamford, Connecticut

What is Unique about the Workers Compensation System in Connecticut?

Connecticut was one of the first states to enact Workers Compensation Legislation in 1913 with the Workers’ Compensation Act (also known as Chapter 568 of the Connecticut General Statutes). The primary purpose of the Act has always been to provide wage replacement and medical treatment for employees who have been injured, disabled, or killed while on the job. While the state of Connecticut was an early adopter of the workers compensation system, this was a time period when many states began to adopt some form of workers compensation system throughout the first few decades of the twentieth century. With the onset of the industrial revolution, states realized that there was a need for a strong workforce. One way states went about guaranteeing there would always be a strong and healthy workforce in their state was to develop some form of a workers compensation system. Just five years ago in 2013, the state of Connecticut celebrated 100 years of such a system. 

The basic structure of the original law still survives despite four major revisions and numerous smaller modifications. Connecticut is a No Fault State meaning the workers compensaiton system provides benefits to employees no matter who was at fault for the injury or illness.  Within the state of Connecticut injured employees are provided medical treatment, wage replacement, vocational rehabilitation, jon retraining, dependents death benefits, and relapse benefits.

Picture of the state map of Connecticut with the word Connecticut written in cursive.

What can Business do to Maximize Declines in Connecticut Workers Compensation Rates?

Implement a Safety Program

A Safety Program is the single most effective way to limit the frequency and severity of insurance claims within a business. Limiting claims can have a long term positive impact to your business when it comes to purchasing commercial insurance. This is because it will have a positive impact on the businesses experience modification rating, which is one of the most impactful measurements underwriters use when they decide if they are going to offer your business coverage and how much to charge for that coverage.

Include a Return to Work Program

Incorporating a return to work program into your safety program is a great way to positively impact your experience modification rating for years to come. This is because the quicker an injured employee returns to work, the more likely they are to return to permanent work. This is how a business can limit the damage to the business when it does experience an injured worker.

Shop Around Your Policy

Shopping around your policy is something you should do periodically. If not every year, at least every few years in order to make sure your current insurance carrier is competitive with the current market. It is not a wise decision to switch each year based upon a modest decrease in premium, but it is wise to keep your rate competitive.

Partner with an Independent Agent

One of the best ways to shop around your insurance policies is to partner with an independent insurance agent. An independent agent can shop around your policy for you and they have the inside knowledge to know which carriers are hungry to quote your industry or the coverages you are looking for. This can save you time and money when purchasing commercial insurance.

 

17.2% Decrease for North Carolina Workers Compensation Rates 2019

North Carolina Workers Comp Rates will be declining in 2019

In 2019, businesses in the state of North Carolina will pay on average 17.2 percent less for workers compensation.  This decrease is in addition to a 8.5% decrease in 2016 and a 12.5% decrease in 2017. This is great news for North Carolina. In 2018, North Carolina ranked near the middle of the national average. A 2018 study ranks NC as the 23 highest in premium rates across the United States making their average rates 4% higher than the national average. A similar study done in 2016 ranked the state as 27th for average rates. North Carolina’s median rates are currently on par with the average rates in the U.S. This decrease should lower the states ranking and considering North Carolina is the 10th most populous state, this is great news for the business community.

North Carolina Flag within the outline of the state border.

Why are North Carolina Workers Compensation Insurance Rates Declining in 2019

North Carolina Workers Compensation Rates 2019 are decreasing primarily as a result of insurance carriers processing fewer claims and paying out less for workers’ compensation claims. Because of these declines in claims and payouts,  the carriers are able to pass on the savings to customers. Now not all industries are going to see the same amount of decrease. Some industries may fair better than others. According to the North Carolina Rating Bureau (NCRB), manufacturing industry groups will experience an average drop of 15.8 percent, contracting industry groups will see a decrease of 6.5 percent, and both office and clerical as well as goods and services will see an average of 19.3 percent decrease to both industries.

Charlotte, NC Skyline

Requirements for Workers Comp Coverage in North Carolina?

In the state of North Carolina employers with three or more regular, full, or part-time employees are required to secure workers comp coverage. This includes all corporations and non-profits. Sole Proprietors, Partners, and LLC Members are automatically excluded from coverage, but have the ability to elect coverage. Corporate officers are included on all policies, but can exclude themselves using the Accord 130 form.

Payroll Requirements for Business Owners in North Carolina

Sole Proprietors and Partners who include themselves on coverage must use an annual payroll of $46,900 for rating purposes as of 04/01/2019. Corporate Officers who do not exclude themselves from coverage must do so at a minimum payroll of $46,800 and a maximum annual payroll of $93,600 as of 01/01/2019.

Full North Carolina State Flag

What is Unique about the Workers Comp System in North Carolina?

Experience Modification Rating

The Workers Compensation System in the state of North Carolina is unique because the state calculates the Experience Modification Rating of business on its own. The department that does this is the North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB). Most states partner with the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) to establish these ratings. North Carolina does report claims to NCCI for the purpose of determining interstate modifiers. This applies to employers who operate in North Carolina and other states throughout the country.

Waiver of Subrogation

Waivers of Subrogation are no longer required in North Carolina. They are not required because North Carolina Law establishes that a principal contractor is not responsible for subcontractors. This may cause contractors to face unique challenges throughout the state. Regardless, general contractors may be liable for injuries and coverage of uninsured subcontractors. In some instances, a general contactor may charge subcontractor for the cost of workers compensation while working on various jobsites.

Outdoors, Park, Landscape

The North Carolina Business Community will be seeing improvements next year in the form of lower workers compensation rates. This good news resulted from insurance carriers processing fewer claims and paying out less for the claims that were processed. These improvements are attributed to technology improving the efficiency in improvements and the safety of the workforce. In light of these savings, business owners should consult with their insurance agent to make sure they are maximizing all possible savings when it comes to workers compensation as well as all other forms of commercial insurance. Partnering with an independent agent is the most efficient way to ensure comprehensive coverage at the lowest rate possible.

Ocean Sunset along the Coast

How can Businesses Ensure Maximum Savings on North Carolina Workers Compensation Rates 2019

Partner with an Independent Agent

Partnering with an Independent Agent is one of the best ways a business can make sure to get maximum coverage at rock-bottom rates. This is a fact because an independent agent is not pressured to sell you the coverage of one insurance carrier. An independent agent can shop your policy out to multiple carriers. Multiple carriers competing for your business can get your business better coverage at better rates. Additionally, the independent agent knows which carriers are hungry to quote the policies you are looking for, in the particular state you are located, and in the industry your business operates. This inside knowledge can save you time and money when looking for coverage.

Control Your Experience Modification Rating

The experience modification rating of a business is crucial to limiting what the business pays for premium. The first thing an underwriter looks at when determining if they are going to offer coverage to a business and what to charge that business for coverage, is the classification code of the business and the experience modification rating of that business. Controlling this rating is one of the more impactful aspect a business has control over. Especially related to what the business pays for commercial insurance, especially workers compensation.

Prepare for Natural Disasters

In North Carolina, Natural Disasters are a risk to consider. This is the case no matter what part of the state you are located. Hurricanes and flooding are especially important to speak with your insurance agent about. The amount of risk you are comfortable with may not be the same as other business owners. If this is the case, it is important to express this to your agent. Tell them what you do, what the climate is like, and the level of risk you’re comfortable. With this knowledge, a good independent agent should be able to find several packages to suit your needs.

Develop an In-depth Safety Program

Safety Programs are one of the most cost effective ways for a business to save money. Not only can an effective safety program help a business save on commercial insurance, it can also help save money in many other ways. Lowering damage to equipment, less missed days by injured employees, and a happier workforce are at the top of the list of ways a business can benefit from an effective safety program.

Include a Return-to-Work Program

A Return-to-Work Program is something that can be implemented in tandem with a safety program and save your business immensely when you do experience an injured worker. Statistics show, the quicker an employee gets back to work, the more likely they are to return to work. This will save your business considerably by not damaging your experience modification rating, by not having to deal with a missing or injured employee, and by not having to retrain a new employee to do what the injured employee had experience with.

Exclude Owners

An Owner Exclusion in North Carolina is generally permitted for a business to exclude themselves from workers’ compensation insurance. This is true for every form of business. That includes sole-proprietors, partners, LLC owners, and corporations. Owners who decide to exclude coverage on themselves are not  covered in the event they are injured on the job. If the business is willing to take on the risk, excluding the owners from coverage can save each year on workers compensation premium.

Ask about Credits and Discounts

North Carolina law allows insurance carriers to apply scheduled credits up to 25% of the full premium on each individual workers compensation insurance policy. This is in addition to credits already given to the policy holder.Credits are typically given because of a good Experience Modification Rate. Credits are usually given for management experience, no prior claims, and profitability of an account. Employers should always take additional time to speak long and honestly with their insurance agent to inform them about every positive the business has to offer. It is equally important to request additional credits when shopping workers compensation quotes.

Florida Workers Comp Rates Remain in Flux for 2019

Florida Workers Comp Rates 2019 are headed in a positive direction.  

In 2019, Florida Workers Comp Rates are improving for the business community throughout the state.  The decline amounts to a deduction of 13.9% and will contribute to a savings for business in Florida of approximately $454 million. This is good news because the Florida Workers Compensation System has been in flux for a number of years.  This decrease is the third such decrease over the previous year and a half.  Previous to these three decreases, the workers compensation rates had increased by 14.5% in 2016.

Florida Workers Comp Insurance Rates 2019

What Caused Florida Workers Compensation Rates 2019 to Decrease?

Florida Workers Comp Rates 2019 are decreasing because of significant improvements in experienced losses by insurance carriers. This means the insurance carriers paid out less in claims. Some within the industry credit safer workplaces, enhanced efficiencies in the workplace, and an increase in the use of technologies for the decrease in costs.

What is Unique about the Florida Workers Compensation System?

The most unique aspect of the Florida Workers Compensation System is that Florida is a No Competition State. This means Florida is one of the few remaining states in the country where every insurance company offering coverage within the state are required to offer the same rates and discounts as all other carriers. State mandated rates mean employers do not have to shop around as much as more competitive states. Business primarily need to be concerned about finding an insurance carrier willing to offer coverage on the voluntary market with the most cash flow friendly payment options and the business needs to avoid the Florida State Fund.

Pond with a waterfall and palm trees in the background at a Miami, Florida Golf Course.

Why have the Workers Comp Florida Rates 2019 Been in Flux?

For the past few years, workers compensation rates within the state of Florida have been in flux for a number of reasons. Two State Supreme Court Decisions have contributed to the instability. Those cases were Castellanos v. Next Door Company and Westphal v. City of St. PetersburgCastellanos vs. Next Door Company made a previous 2009 ruling invalid, meaning judges no longer had to stick to the mandatory fee schedule and now can award additional compensation for attorney’s fees when offering judgments within the workers compensation system.  The Westphal Case, had a ruling that ruled the 104-week statutory limitation on temporary total disability benefits is unconstitutional. This ruling extended this period to a 260-week limitation. This 260-week limit is more in line with states throughout the country and significantly increased the amount carriers had to pay for permanently disabled injured workers.

Another factor that has caused the workers compensation system in the state of Florida to be out of whack is State Senate Bill 1402.  This bill accounted for 1.8% of the recent increase in premium by increasing the cost for updates within the Florida Workers’ Compensation HCPR Manual.

In addition to these issues, in 2017 the Florida Insurance Regulators took over Guarantee Insurance Company (The states assigned risk workers comp provider) because it had become insolvent.  This left 1250 businesses in the state of Florida scrambling to find a workers comp carrier.

Epcot Center, Disney World, Orlando, Florida

What could be in store for future rates?

Hurricane Michael Relief

In response to Hurricane Michael, Florida Governor Rick Scott issued an emergency order that make sure “additional protections” are in place for Florida policyholders – including freezing any rate hikes for 90 days.

The order requires that insurers:

  1. Provide an additional 90 days to policyholders to supply required information to their insurance company. Many Floridians were displaced during this dangerous storm, and providing additional time to submit information to insurance companies gives them needed flexibility.
  2. Rescind for 90 days all non-renewals or cancellations issued to policyholders in the days leading up to Hurricane Michael. This gives policyholders 90 days to either renew their insurance policy, or find a new policy; and
  3. Freeze any and all efforts to increase rates on policyholders for 90 days.

Independent Medical Review Program

Florida is looking in to implementing a 6-year-old independent medical review program for workers compensation claims. This program has been enacted by the state of California and has been a resounding success. Under this program disputes about the medical treatment of injured workers are resolved by physicians instead of by the courts. California has found this has enabled for a more efficient resolution of claims while reducing the need for lengthy and costly judicial processes.

New State Senate Promising to Revisit Florida’s Workers Comp Laws

The new President of the Senate in the state of Florida, Bill Galvano, is promising to revisit Florida’s workers’ compensation insurance laws. At a recent ceremony shortly after taking over as President of the Senate Galvano said, “I don’t want to be in a situation where they spike and then we are running to fix it at that point”. Statements like these from the leadership of the Florida legislature show the decision makers in the house are looking forward to attempt to provide a stable market for the business community and eliminate the volatility businesses have seen in recent years for Florida Workers Comp Rates.

Turtles and Alligator at Busch Gardens, Florida

Florida Workers Comp Requirements

There are several requirements for businesses operating within the state of Florida. First and foremost, non-construction companies with four or fewer employees are required to purchase employees. It does not matter if those employees are full or part-time. All construction related businesses are required to secure coverage no matter the number of employees within the business. Sole Proprietors and Partners are not required to cover themselves and are exempt from coverage. A corporation and LLC may exempt officers if each owner owns less then 10 percent of the stock in the business. Sole Proprietors and Partners are not required to cover themselves and they are automatically excluded. These people can elect to be covered using form DWC-251. Corporate Officers of non-construction businesses can exempt from coverage if they own stock and hold an office on the board of directors. LLC Members of non construction businesses are treated as employees, but may be exempt of they so choose.

Miami, Usa, Beach, Miami, Miami, Miami

What can Florida Business Owner do to Maximize Savings?

Shop around your Policy

It is not a wise decision to switch carriers every year for a slight decrease in premium. This is because when a claim does occur a carrier will take in to consideration how long you have been a customers of theirs when they are deciding to raise your rate or deny your business coverage. At the same time, it is important to make sure your business is getting a competitive rate. The best way to do this is to partner with an independent agent who can shop around your policy for you.  This can save you time and usually result in lower premium payments on more comprehensive coverage.

Invest in Safety Protocols

Safety is the name of the game in any business. It is what is best for your employees as well as your customers. It is also important when it comes time to purchase commercial insurance. a safer business will have less claims and the claims it does have will be less severe. A small investment in a safety program can pay huge dividends when looking for the lowest Florida Workers Comp Rates.

Choose the Pay as You Go Option

Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Insurance is an excellent option for seasonal and cash strapped businesses. This option allows businesses to get coverage in place at a significantly lower rate than a traditional workers comp policy. Once a policy is in place, the premium is paid monthly based upon the actual payroll from the previous month.  This is a great option if your business operates in an industry that has a hard time forecasting payroll for a number of reasons. If your payroll is significantly lower one month the payment will reflect that and the same will occur in months when your workforce represents more man hours. Finally, a Pay as You Go Policy prevents most mid-term audits from occurring because the payments are more accurate from month to month and not based upon an estimate from previous years payroll.  This prevents an unwelcome surprise from occurring at the end of a term when a business under pays premium throughout the year and has an unexpected payment to end the year.

 

Indiana Workers Compensation 2019

Indiana Workers Compensation Rates are going down by an average of more than 7%. 

Indiana Workers Compensation Rates 2019 will be going down by an amount of 7.6 percent on average for businesses throughout the state. The Department of Insurance approved the decrease in the month of October and the benefits go in to effect the first of January 2019. This savings is estimated to amount to a savings of more than $60 million for Indiana Businesses.

Indiana Workers Compensation

Why are Indiana Workers Compensation Rates 2019 Declining

Many things go in to what a business pays for workers compensation insurance. The experience modification rate of the business and the strength of the assigned risk provider in the particular state equate an enormous amount towards what a carrier decides to charge a business for coverage.  Indiana Workers Compensation are decreasing because of lowering frequency of worker injuries. The department of insurance also credited a robust job market as a reason for lower rates because as the economy grows people open more businesses which create a larger base for insurers to collect premiums.

Indiana Farm In Winter

How can Business Owners Maximize saving on Indiana Workers Compensation Rates 2019?

Shop Around Your Indiana Workers Compensation Policy

It is never a good idea to switch carriers at the drop of a hat because of a small drop in premium. At the same time it is equally important to shop your policy around periodically to ensure your carrier is offering a competitive price. An efficient way to do this is to partner with an independent agent.

Use an Independent Agent

Partnering with an independent agent is always a great way to ensure maximum savings on the most comprehensive coverage available. An independent agent is a good partner because they can shop your policy around to multiple carriers in an attempt to get better coverage at lower rates by forcing the carriers to compete for your coverage. An independent agent will allow you to focus on running your business while your agent shops around your insurance policy.

Ensure Your Business is Classified Properly

Far too many businesses have employees that are not classified properly. If you have different types of employees than it is important to discuss this with your insurance agent at renewal. This can be an issue if you have some employees who are in office/clerical positions yet other employees who may be in other positions that are more physical in nature. When employees are classified improperly, it is typically cleared up during the post term audit.  Even when t his mistake gets cleared up during the end of term audit, it still causes the business to either over pay throughout the year or have an unexpected additional payment at the end of the term. In order to not over or underpay your insurance premium, make sure you are placed in the proper classification code.

 

California Workers Compensation Rates 2019

Prices are Declining for California Workers Compensation Rates in 2019 

During the year 2019, California Workers Compensation Rates are going to cost the business community less than in 2018. The average rate of $1.63 per $100 in payroll by Jan. 1 will be approximately 72 percent lower than when rates peaked in 2015. In 2015 the recommended rate was $2.81 per $100 in payroll.  According to California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, “Cost savings in the workers’ compensation system have helped insurers and employers deserve to share in the cost savings through lower premiums,” This is the lowest rates for workers compensation insurance have been in the state of California in five years.

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge, atracts businesses to San Francisco. Those businesses will be paying less for California Workers Compensation Rates 2019.

What is contributing to Lower California Workers Compensation Rates 2019?

California has some of the highest rates for workers comp in the country the California Workers Compensation Bureau WCIRB has pointed to a high frequency of permanent disability claims as a reason for higher costs. Also, California has a higher than average cost of handling claims and delivering benefits. This contributes to the state having higher rates for workers compensation premium. Businesses in the state of California spent $16.2 billion on workers’ compensation just last year.

In 2019, California Work Comp Rates are continuing to decrease for the fifth straight year. These declines occurred primarily because of reforms made to fight the opioid epidemic, low inflation for medical and pharmaceutical costs, and increased fraud investigations. Because of these efforts throughout the entire workers compensation system, the amount paid out for opioids in 2018 was nearly a fifth of what it was in 2013. This drop was from $15,687 to $3,204 per 100 claims, according to WCIRB (The California Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau). A large part of the reason for the decrease in what the workers compensation system paid out for opioid prescriptions is because California enacted a program called CURES (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System). CURES is a database of Schedule II, III and IV controlled substance prescriptions dispensed in California serving the public health, regulatory oversight agencies, and law enforcement. The CURES Program requires dispensing pharmacies, clinics, or other dispensers of Schedule II through IV controlled substances to provide specified dispensing information to the Department of Justice on a weekly basis in a format approved and accepted by the DOJ. This has significantly decreased the amount of opioid abuse throughout the state and that has benefited the workers compensation system.

Iconic Hollywood, California

What can Business Owners do to continue saving on California Workers Compensation Rates 2019

California Workers Compensation Rates 2019 are decreasing for the fifth straight year. This represents a decrease of 72 percent over this time period, but businesses in California still pay more for workers comp coverage than nearly all states throughout the country. Because of these high rates, it is important to maximize savings in any way possible. Here are five ways business owners can alter the way they do business in order to save on commercial insurance.

Make sure your business is classified properly

Far too many businesses are classified improperly for purposes of workers compensation insurance. This is attributed to a number of reasons, but many times it is because a business owner rushes through the quoting process when purchasing Workmans Comp Insurance California. An insurance agent can only act upon the information they are given by the business owner when they are shopping for the best coverage to fit a business owners needs. If the business owner does not explain many intricacies of their business, the business may be classified improperly and pay more or less for coverage throughout the year. This mistake usually gets cleared during the end of term audit, but it can cause a business to owe additional premium. Even if the business over pays and is issued a refund, it means the business has tied up valuable cash flow in unnecessary premium payments throughout the year. These unnecessary payments could have been used on other more important business expenses.

Implement a Safety Program

A Safety Program can help limit the cost of workers compensation insurance in California because it will limit both the frequency and severity of claims. When you business has less claims and the claims you do have are small, the insurance carrier is more likely to offer your business a favorable rate for premium.

Start the Safety Program the day employees are hired

Safety Programs should be a part of your company culture. This should not start after a month in which a few accidents occur. Safety should be part of the training program from the moment an employee starts on the job. The more the business (especially the key employees) talk about safety, the more likely that message is to fester throughout the organization.

Add a Return-to-Work Program to your Safety Policy

A Return to Work Program can significantly impact your experience modification rating in a positive way. When an employee is hurt and not able to work they are much more likely to develop new habits outside of their daily work routine. The longer they stay off the job, the more likely the injured employee is to become long term unemployed. This can have a drastic impact on the experience modification rating of the business. Businesses that are able to get an employee back on the job, even in a limited capacity, are more likely to have those employees return to permanent work.

Communicate with your Insurance Carrier and Healthcare Provider

Communication is key when it comes to navigating the workers compensation system. This is true for the business owner, the injured worker, the insurance agent as well as the underwriter who represents the insurance carrier. The business owner has a responsibility to help the injured worker navigate the workers compensation system and get the care they deserve while not able to work. It is important to keep your agent in the loop throughout this process even though it is the responsibility of the carrier to administer the program. Keeping the agent in the loop can help in the unfortunate event that the carrier is not living up to their end of the bargain. If the agent knows about this process throughout, they can help hold the carrier accountable.

Surfing the California Coast

What are the Requirements for Workers Compensation Insurance Coverage in the State of California?

In California, all employers are required to purchase workers compensation coverage regardless of the number of employees. Sole Proprietors are not automatically included in coverage, but can elect to be included using the Acord 130 Application. Partners are automatically included on policies and they are not allowed to be exempt. Corporate Officers who happen to be the sole shareholder are excluded from coverage, but they have the ability to elect coverage if they so choose. All LLC Members who work within a business are included for coverage, but non-working LLC Members are excluded from coverage unless they elect to be covered using the Acord 130 form.

What are the Payroll Requirements for Business Owners in California?

According to California regulation, Sole Proprietors who elect to include themselves on workers comp coverage must use a minimum payroll amount of $52,000 and a maximum of $133,900 for rating purposes as of January First, 2019. Partners, Officers and LLC Members who do not excluded themselves from coverage must utilize a minimum payroll of $52,000 and a maximum of $133,900 for the purpose of rating workers comp premium.

 

Logo for the Insurance Shop LLCMy Insurance Question is a blog published by the insurance experts at the Insurance Shop LLC.  If you are in the market for any form of commercial insurance give us a call at 1-800-800-4864 or start a quote here: Start a Quote with The Insurance Shop