Tips for Home Health Care Agencies

Owning and operating a home health care agency can be complex. The clients you deal with can have a wide range of health issues you and your employees need to be familiar with. Some clients may be small and frail, but very mobile; while another client may be large and immobile. Some may have mental problems like dementia while other clients may have mobility issues like the aftermath of a stroke. With each of these clients comes a unique set of risks. These risks all determine what type of insurance you need and how much that insurance will cost. Here are three tips to help you the next time you shop for home health care workers comp.

Make sure you are classified accurately

For purposes of workers compensation insurance, governance of these programs is left up to the individual states. Most of the states partner with the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) to determine a classification code for each business and the rate of premium for each code. There are currently more than 700 different codes a business can be classified as. Each industry has multiple classification codes depending upon the scope and scale of the business. Depending upon the actions of your employees while on the job, the amount of premium is reflected through your businesses classification code.

Hire carefully

Unfortunately the home health care industry tends to have a high turnover rate. The two main reasons for this is the stress of the job and the amount of pay for most employees. In order to turn a profit, there is only so much a business owner can pay their employees in order to stay profitable. Because of this fact, it is difficult to keep the best employees around. This is a reason to hire carefully and for the long-term. Sometimes the candidate with the best resume is not as good for your business as the candidate who is the best fit for your business. Finding the best fit is different from business to business based upon the scope of the business and the market that business operates in. Taking additional time to hire the right person will almost always pay off in the long run.

Implement safety protocols

Safety programs are immensely important in the home health care industry. This industry has both a high volume of insurance claims and the claims can be high in severity. The reason for this is because many employees drive their own vehicle to a remote location and many drive to multiple locations throughout the day. The time that your employees drives from location to location makes the liability for accidents that occur the responsibility of the business. This is regardless of whether the employee is on the clock or not. It is important to consider implementing a driver safety program for your home healthcare business.

It is also important to implement safety programs  for the time your employees are in the homes with clients. Depending upon the limitations of each client, your employees should be prepared to keep themselves safe first and keep the client safe second. Let them know that they cannot help the client if they do not take care of themselves first. Because of the remote nature of this work, it is important to have weekly face to face meetings with all employees and to discuss safety protocols with them.

 

Residential Cleaning

How a Residential Cleaning Company Can Benefit From Pay as You Go Workers Comp

A Woman Working at a Residential Cleaning Company. Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required by law for businesses in most states. So is General Liability in most industries. For that reason, these two policies are the bare minimum coverage a business needs to be in business. Now for a cash-strapped, seasonal, or start-up business; coming up with the initial payment to get coverage in place can be difficult. Because of this issue, many carriers have come up with alternative payment options for these necessary coverages. The most popular alternative payment option is Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation. One industry in particular that benefits from this option is the residential cleaning industry. Here are four ways residential cleaning companies benefit from choosing the Pay as You Go Option for Workers Comp Coverage.

  • Pay-as-You-Go has lower up-front costs.
  • Pay-as-You-Go frees up cash for more pressing business needs.
  • Pay-as-You-Go allows businesses to pay premium monthly.
  • Pay-as-You-Go prevents most audits

Residential Cleaning Companies depend upon their employees to keep their customers happy.

Lower Up Front Costs

When a cleaning company decides to go with a traditional workers compensation policy, they are required to make a large lump sum payment just to get coverage in place. They later have to make nine monthly payments at the end of the term. These payments are based upon an estimate of payroll from last year. If your business has plenty of cash on hand and your employee hours are regular from year to year this may not be much of a problem. Most residential cleaning companies do not have regular payroll or mounds of cash on hand. If this sounds like your business than the Pay as You Go Option is a great way to get coverage in place without tying up too much cash.

Frees Up Cash

Now if you are a business that is not rolling in cash, you may need to consider the Pay as You Go Option.  This type of alternative payment method for workers comp coverage allows you to not only lower your up front costs, but it allows you to free up cash throughout the year by paying your premium in real-time each month based upon the accurate payroll from the previous month. This is instead of paying premium based upon an estimate of payroll from last year or the three previous years. This estimate can cause you to severely over or under-pay on premium.

Allows Monthly Payments

Allowing payments of premium each month can help your business in many ways. One of the best ways it helps is by keeping your payments accurate from paying them in real-time. When workers comp premiums are paid on an estimate basis, it can cause you to severely under or over-pay throughout the year. This gets cleared up whenever an audit takes place and an audit takes place at the end of each term, but if you under pay throughout the year it can cause your business to have a surprise payment at the end of the term. Even if you are one of the lucky businesses who over-pays and gets a refund at the end of the term, you still have had additional cash tied up in premium payments throughout the year. This is cash that could have been spent on more pressing needs.

Buying the proper chemicals is an essential part of any successful residential cleaning company.

Prevent Audits

An additional benefit your residential cleaning business can gain from choosing the Pay as You Go Option is to prevent audits mid-term. Because the payroll is calculated monthly by a payroll company it is accurate. This eliminates the need for a mid term audit because the payroll company is auditing the premium payment each month. The Pay as You Go Option also makes the end of term audit much more smooth because the payments have been done based on actual payroll each month. Your staff will spend less time gathering data to compare your actual payroll with the estimated payroll and premium payments based on that estimate. If you have ever underpaid premium and owed a significant amount at the end of the term, you appreciate the accuracy this program provides.

Workers Compensation Insurance in California

What makes the Workers’ Compensation Insurance System in California unique?

California Workers' Compensation Insurance

 

California is currently the most expensive state in the country for employers workers compensation coverage. Rates throughout the state have continued to rise over the past 10 years. Much of the increased costs are caused by the rising costs of medical coverage and state laws.

State law, like in most states, requires all employers to provide workers compensation coverage to all employees of a particular company.  Failure to purchase workers comp coverage is a criminal offense in California. Employers may receive a fine of $10,000 or more and up to a year in a county jail.  It is also illegal for any employer to pay a medical bill directly to the provider. A claim form (DWC Form 1) must be filed with the insurance company for any injury requiring more than first aid care.

San Francisco, California

As you may know, California has the largest economy of any state in the United States.  This brings an extraordinary amount of businesses to the state who have an extraordinary need for commercial insurance.  Because the states mandates that employers carry workers comp coverage there is a lot of competition to quote the coverage of those businesses.  In most cases this increased competition would bring the cost of the coverage down, but not in the case of workers compensation insurance.  The main factors driving prices up in the state of California are the state regulations that many would say favor the worker over employers.

According to the Insurance Journal there are steps being taken to curb the increase in workers compensation costs throughout the state of California:

“Claim frequency, claim administration and high medical costs are typically among the drivers of high workers’ comp rates. However, the state in 2012 passed a massive workers’ comp reform law, which according to its supporters seems to be working.

California’s Workers’ Compensation Rating Bureau earlier this month submitted a pure premium rate filing to the California Department of Insurance proposing Jan. 1, 2017 advisory pure premium rates lower than the corresponding industry average.

The WCIRB submitted a rate filing that averaged $2.22 per $100 of payroll, citing in part legislative changes made this year that the bureau believes could help reduce costs. Senate Bill 1160 and Assembly Bill 1244 are both designed to remove medical providers convicted of fraud from the system and prevent them from filing liens.”

Additionally, a lot of business owners in California assume workers compensation is similar regardless of the carrier. Depending upon the industry you are in and the scope of the work you do within that industry, coverages can vary dramatically.  The cost of coverage for the same classification codes can vary significantly between carriers. This is because the appetites for certain industries and types of coverage change from year to year and carrier to carrier. For example, after Hurricane Katrina many insurance carriers were very conservative when offering homeowners or hurricane insurance throughout the coastal areas in the southeast.  This was because of the damaging amount of claims the carriers had to pay out as a result of this damaging storm.

At some independent insurance agencies, they take the work out of finding an insurance company with quality coverage and affordable rates. They do this by being able to quote you coverage from several carriers as opposed to just one or a select few.  In short, they shop the insurance so you don’t have to. Partnering with a good independent insurance agent with whom you trust and speaking candidly with them about your business can go a long way towards saving on workers compensation insurance in California.

Santa Monica, California

Workers Compensation Insurance System in Texas

Why is the Workers’ Compensation Insurance System in Texas so different than other states?

Texas Workers Comp Insurance: Find the best answers to your questions about Small Business Workers' Compensation Insurance in Texas at MyInsuranceQuestion.com

Like all 50 states, the Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) regulates the state’s workers’ compensation system.  It also certifies which employers want to self-insure.  That’s right, Texas allows some employers to not carry workers’ compensation insurance.  Now companies who do not provide workers comp coverage may be liable for medical bills and lost wages when an employee is injured on the job. There are certain standards the companies must meet in order to self-insure.

Government contractors are required to provide workers comp coverage for all employees working on a project.  On top of that, most clients require their contractors to have workers’ compensation insurance.  Employers who choose not to have workers’ compensation insurance (Nonsubscribers) must file an annual notice with the Department of Insurance and the employers who choose not to carry coverage must display notices of no-coverage in common working areas as well as give written statement to each new employee hired.

The ability to self-insure (otherwise known as opt-out) is only one part of the workers comp system that is different in the state of Texas.  It definitely adds an additional wrinkle in to the already complex workers compensation system in the state, but there are other parts of the system that have an impact on the business community in Texas.

Texas Workers Comp Market

The market is very competitive for workers compensation coverage and premium rates are well below the national average the national median rates, at around 87% for 2014.  Part of this good rate on premium is due to the strong economy in the state of texas, but also because of the strength of competition in the work comp market that drives down price.

Rates vary considerably between insurance companies and employers are advised to shop their workers comp coverage periodically.  Small business owners can do this by calling multiple carriers themselves or they can shop with an independent agency who can quote from multiple carriers. The ability to quote from many carriers can help your independent agent ensure they find a carrier with the best price for your classification code.

On top of good rates because of strong competition for workers comp Texas offers several exclusions that are unique to the state of Texas.

Coverage Exclusions in Texas

Injuries that are excluded under the Texas Workers Compensation Act:

  1. Intentional or self-inflicted injuries
  2. Result from horseplay or voluntary drug or alcohol intoxication
  3. Inflicted by someone else for personal reasons unrelated to the job
  4. Result from voluntary participation in off-duty recreational, social, or sports events
  5. Result from “acts of God” (like floods or hurricanes), unless the job has a particularly high risk of such injuries.

NCCI Workers compensation class code 9014

Let’s break down NCCI workers comp class code 9014

Find the best answers to your Janitorial business question ( class code 9014 ) at MyInsuranceQuestion.com

NCCI class code 9014, like most workers comp class codes, includes many different operations.  NCCI stand for the National Council on Compensation Insurance.  It is the main governing body for workers comp codes.  These classification codes generally include a variety of operations.  The classification manual from NCCI is written to include specific operations.  Over time, additional operations are added to each individual classification code.

Commercial janitorial services is the primary operation contemplated by NCCI class code 9014. Janitorial services are specifically defined as keeping a building clean.  The businesses do this by routine dusting; mopping, vacuuming, waxing, or polishing floors.  The janitorial businesses also empty trash; clean and wash interior walls; clean, sanitize, and deodorize restrooms.   Office cleaning companies are the easiest operations to get insured (at the most favorable pricing).  It is reasonably easy to get favorable workers comp insurance for commercial janitorial companies.  Especially commercial janitorial companies that clean at retail and other light commercial spaces. It is difficult to get workers compensation insurance for commercial janitorial companies which specialize in cleaning at industrial settings.  Industrial settings frequently lead to the business having to purchase coverage from the state’s assigned risk provider.

Favorable workers comp insurance is be more difficult to get for certain operations.  For typical commercial janitorial companies, the NCCI class code 9014 allows for maintenance and minor repair work. Most insurance carriers will allow up to 10% of operations to fall into this arena. Floor waxing is another operation which underwriters consider. Some carriers allow as much as 25% of the business activity to be floor waxing.  If it is this amount or less the carrier will still quote accounts. Power washing is disfavored, and most carriers will decline to quote companies offering power washing.  Although it is an operation included in code 9014, at least if performed at ground level.

Code 9014 allows for residential cleaning if it is less than 50% of operations. A different NCCI class code is used for primarily cleaning companies.  That code is  0917. However, the majority of workers comp carriers will decline any account which does any residential cleaning as it is a less controlled work environment.   With that said, at least in some states, The Hartford will still quote commercial janitorial companies with some level of residential cleaning.  Having several years in business is generally an eligibility requirement in this case.

Insurance carriers favor interior operations over exterior operations.  A small amount of exterior operations can be allowed, but work from heights or power washing usually lead to declines from insurance carriers.  NCCI class code 9014 allows for ground level window cleaning.  Class code 9170 must be used for businesses that partake in any window washing above ground level.  This is much more difficult to get quoted by insurance carriers.

Other operations which are included in NCCI workers comp code 9014 include:

  • Exterminators
    • Some carriers will offer coverage to these businesses, but many will not.  If there is any live animal trapping provided in services almost all of the insurance carriers will refuse to provide workers comp insurance.
  • Chimney Cleaning
    • This function is acceptable to most insurance carriers if the service is performed using the vacuum suction method at ground level.  If the service includes work at heights for any employees, it becomes much more difficult to find a carrier who will quote workers comp coverage.
  • Residential boiler cleaning
    • This type of service frequently involves using vacuum suction equipment.  Any work involving boilers is difficult to get quoted by nearly all insurance carriers.
  • Swimming pool maintenance
    • A few carriers will quote swimming pool maintenance companies.  When the swimming pool maintenance company adds construction to their list of business operations, it becomes much more difficult to find a carrier willing to quote the business.
  • Pet waste removal services
    • Pet waste removal businesses need to have sufficient payroll to find many carriers willing to quote coverage.  There is a small possibility to get this quoted by carriers on the voluntary market.

There are many different operations that can be included in NCCI class code 9014.  Especially for purposes of workers comp.

Have a Work Comp Audit soon?

Here are 7 tips for a Smooth Workers Compensation Audit

Find the best advice for a smooth workers compensation audit at myinsurancequestion.com

Each year all businesses must go through a workers compensation audit process. If you are like most small business owners, this is not one of your favorite parts of owning a business.  The process can be long a tidious, but the more prepared you are for this process, the more quick and more smooth the process will be. Consulting with your independent insurance agent can help you prepare for the process and make sure the audit is done well the first time through the process. Here are 7 ways to ensure this process goes as painless as possible.

Communicate with your agent.

Open communication with your insurance agent is essential to a smooth workers compensation audit. This is a reason why it is important to consider an independent insurance agent.  An independent agent is not as closely associated to the insurance carrier.  They can help you prepare for the audit and negotiate on your behalf if anything does not go in your favor. Open communication throughout your relationship with your insurance agent is essential to a satisfied experience during your small businesses workers comp audit.

Have paperwork prepared in advance

Having all necessary paperwork prepared in advance of your audit will make the process move as smooth as it possibly can.  This includes any and all payroll and employee records.  Job descriptions need to be included for each employee and their annual weeks, days and hours worked.  The more detailed the better.

Payment and cash disbursement records,

Throughout the year it is important to keep a record of all payments and cash disbursement.  Not having these available and organized is a good reason to have the auditor dig a little deeper. The more open, honest and organized you are throughout the entire audit process the more smooth the process will be.

Certificates of Insurance 

In order to ensure a smooth workers compensation audit, make sure to keep a detailed record of all needed certificates of insurance for any and all sub-contractors or independent contractors your business used. The primary reason for providing these documents is that if you do not, these contractors will be listed as employees and it can substantially raise what you pay in premium.

Experience Modification Worksheet

The experience modification worksheet is a document that is published annually by the rating bureau in your state.  It covers the loss history for your business during the most recent three-year period, not including the most recent year.  The most recent year is not included due to overlap from some claims not being closed.  If you have had a large claims or a large amount of minor claims during any year it is important to have this worksheet available in order to show the true loss history of your business.

Make yourself available for the exit interview 

After a typically smooth workers compensation audit there is an exit interview at some time.  It usually lasts several hours and is a way for the auditor to ensure they have all the necessary information to accurately audit your business. The more up-front you are with the auditor the more smooth the process will be.

Respond promptly to auditor follow-up questions  

There will more than likely be questions you do not have the answer to, the auditor will have for you during the audit.  The more quick and more thorough you respond to these questions the more the auditor will work with you to promptly and accurately finish the audit process.  The time period after the audit, before the auditor will finish the process, normally takes two to three weeks. There may be additional questions that need clarification.  This may be a frustrating part of the process, but the more accurate the audit is the better it is for your company.  Your agent can help you with any of these questions if you are having a trouble finding the exact information to satisfy the auditor.  It is also important to keep in mind that for security purposes, the auditor does not keep your payroll records.  You very likely will be asked to provide additional information or records that you have already provided.

An Accurate audit is in your best interest, moreso than a fast audit.  This process is frustrating even during a good audit.  It will take time away from your normal work, but it is within your best interest to ensure your audit is fair and accurate. Keep a positive attitude and consult your independent insurance agent in order to ensure your audit process goes as smoothly as possible.

HVAC Contractors

Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors ( HVAC Contractors ) are those business that provide services for and repair heating and air conditioning units.  They provide these services for both commercial and residential clients.  They have to be knowledgeable about both duct and vent work, the different types of fuel sources for heating equipment, which can be natural or LP gas, electric, steam, solid fuel, coal, or fuel oil.  Many contractors also install, service, and repair air conditioners. While air conditioning units are normally electric-powered, they are charged with different coolants, some of which may be hazardous.

All of these different types of work bring their own unique risks to the contractor. For this reason, it is very important for you to have an extended conversation with your insurance agent about all of the types of work you do and do not participate in.  It is equally important to inform your agent if there are certain types of work you do not partake in. There are more than one classification code for this industry and the types of risks you take on can dramatically impact what you pay in premium for a number of commercial insurance policies.  Below are 6 policies most HVAC Contractors need to secure in order to protect their business properly.

•   General Liability

•   Property Insurance

•   Hired and Non-Owned Auto (full commercial auto if vehicles owned)

•   Inland Marine

•   Business Income with Extra Expense

•   Workers’ Compensation

General Liability Insurance

General Liability Exposures at the contractor’s office or shop are generally limited due to lack of public access to the premises. Retail sales increase the possibility of customers slipping, falling, or tripping if customers visit office to view products.

Property Insurance

Property exposures at the heating contractor’s own location are generally limited to those of an office, shop, and storage of materials, equipment, and vehicles. Operations may also include retail sales. The fire exposure is generally light unless repair operations involving welding take place on premises. Welding involves the use of tanks of gases that must be stored and handled properly to avoid loss. The absence of basic controls such as chained storage in a cool area and the separation of welding from other operations may reflect a greater risk.

Commercial Auto

Automobile exposures are generally limited to transporting workers, equipment and supplies to and from job sites for HVAC Contractors. Hazards depend on the type and use of vehicles and radius of operation with the main hazards being upsets. Vehicles may have special modifications or built-in equipment such as lifts and hoists. Large heating systems may be awkward and require special handling and tie-down procedures. Age, training, experience, and drivers’ records, as well as the age, condition and maintenance of the vehicles are all important items to consider. If employees utilize their own personal vehicles for work related tasks then Hired and Non-Owned Coverage should be purchased.

Inland Marine Coverage

Inland marine exposures include contractors’ tools and equipment, including ladders and scaffolding, hoists, and portable welders, the transport of materials, and installation floater. Goods in transit consists of tools and equipment as well as products purchased by the customer for installation at the job site. HVAC units can be of high value and susceptible to damage in transit; they frequently require expertise in loading to prevent load shift or overturn.

Workers’ compensation

Workers compensation exposures vary based on the size and nature of the job. Both residential and commercial work involves lifting, work with hand tools, wiring, and piping. Cuts from the fabrication and installation of sheet metal for ducts and vents are common. Lifting injuries such as hernias, strains and sprains plus back injuries may occur. Electrical burns are common; electrocution can occur from the use of high-voltage lines. Any time work is done above ground, injury or death from falls and being struck by falling objects can occur. Slips and falls, foreign object in eyes, major and minor burns, and inhalation of fumes are all potential hazards.

Electrical Contractors

Insurance needs and concerns for Electrical Contractors

Electrical contractors carry unique risks that many other businesses in the construction industry do not face.  With those risks come additional types of insurance needs.  Each electrician is unique in the scope and capacity in which they operate their business.  Depending upon the type of work each electrician partakes’ in, there may be a number of types of coverage an electrician needs to secure in order to properly secure their business.  Here is a list of 5 commonly carried coverages most electricians secure.

 

  • General Liability
  • Commercial Property
  • Commercial Auto
  • Inland Marine (Tools and Equipment)
  • Workers Compensation

General Liability

Exposures at the contractor’s office are generally limited because of the lack of access to the premises. Storing materials outdoors may create vandalism and attractive nuisance hazards.  Electrical voltage is always a risk for electricians.  This is due to the risk of electrical burns or electrocution to employees or other third parties.  An electricians’ employees can cause damage to the client’s property and can cause bodily injury to members of the household, the public, or employees of other contractors.  These are risks that are covered by a general liability policy.

Commercial Property

If you own a property; no matter how small, your business needs to secure commercial property coverage. Property exposures at the contractor’s premises typically are fairly low for electricians.  This is generally limited to those of an office and storage for supplies, tools, and vehicles.

Commercial Auto

Automobile liability exposure is higher for electrician than other brick and mortar businesses.  Most electrical contractors are in transit to transport workers, equipment and electrical supplies to and from job sites.  A driving hazard is a huge risk for insurance companies to insure.  The more time your business spends driving the higher the likelihood of claims.  Those claims tend to rise in both frequency and severity.  Implementing a safe driving program and keeping up to date driving records for all employees can help limit what you pay in premium.  Age, training, experience, and drivers’ records, as well as the age, condition, and maintenance of the vehicles, are all important items to consider.

Inland Marine

Inland marine is also commonly called ‘Floaters’ coverage.  It is meant for specialized equipment that is frequently in transit as a part of business operations. The exposures often include owned or rented equipment, building materials, as well as materials being transported to and from the job site.  This is commonly needed for businesses that transport their equipment to a third party site for use delivering a service.  The most basic example of an industry that needs this coverage is a landscaping company.  It can also include any business that takes equipment away from the premises for use as a part of normal business operations.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers compensation insurance is required by law in 48 out of 50 states.  Each state has their own specific exclusions depending upon the number of employees and the scope of your work.  It is important to check with the proper governing agency in your state to determine if you are required to purchase this coverage. Even if you are not required to purchase this coverage in many cases it is still beneficial to your business to secure it.  The coverage provides you with protection from lawsuits that may result from injured employees who are injured as a result of normal business practices.  Employees give up the ability to sue for normal injuries, but get back coverage for their medical expenses and some portion of their wages while they are hurt and not able to work.  Typically they are reimbursed 60 percent of their normal wages for the time they are not able to work.

 

Florida faces another new twist.

The workers’ compensation market in the state of Florida has faced some turbulent times over the last year.  More shocking news came the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in the form of a ruling by Leon County Circuit Court.   Judge Karen Gievers released the shocking news in the form of a ruling in a case that claims the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) did not follow proper procedure under the states Sunshine Law.

The case that is challenging this ruling was brought before the court by James Fee.  Fee is a Miami attorney who represents injured workers. He claimed, and Judge Gievers agreed, that NCCI was in violation of the Sunshine Laws by holding “multiple, non-public, secret meetings” internally and with the OIR over the rates.  Representatives with NCCI and the OIR claim they have complied with the Sunshine Laws.

How much was the rate increase in Florida?

The total rate change was an in crease 14.5% for workers compensation insurance coverage, on average throughout the state of Florida.

What cause the rate increase?

The rate increase was the result of two court cases, Castellanos v. Next Door Company and Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, and updates to the Florida Workers’ Compensation Health Care Provider Reimbursement Manual mandated by Senate Bill 1402.

Castellanos vs. Next Door Company

Marvin Castellanos was an injured employee who sued Next Door Company. This court decision ruled invalid a previous court ruling from 2009. The previous ruling put in place a mandatory attorney fee schedule.  THe overturn of this ruling means judges no longer have to stick to the mandatory fee schedule and now can award additional compensation for attorney’s fees.  The judges now use the fee schedule as a starting point.  This will cause the amount judges award to injured employees to increase dramatically because there is no longer a cap on what the judges can recommend for compensation to the injured employees attorney fees.  This ruling resulted in the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) approving an increase of 10.1 percent on average statewide.

Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg

The Westphal vs. City of St. Petersburg case found the 104-week statutory limitation on temporary total disability benefits to be unconstitutional.  The Florida Supreme Court reinstated a 260-week limitation.  This Increased the amount of time an injured employees will get partial salary benefits by an additional 156 weeks.  This additional 156 weeks of coverage caused the OIR to approve an average increase of 2.2 percent statewide.

Senate Bill 1402

The additional 1.8 percent increase on premium for workers’ compensation was related to updates within the Florida Workers’ Compensation HCPR Manual. This increase was approved as part of Senate Bill 1402.

14.5% Workers Comp Rate Hikes in Florida! What do I do now?

Get the best answers to your Florida Workers Compensation Insurance questions  at MyInsuranceQuestion.comYou do what you can to do your business every day and create opportunities for yourself, your employees and your customers. Rates of everything is rising, property cost, materials, shipping, employee wages. The state of Florida has now said its time for workers’ comp insurance to do the same. The rate increase is to be 14.5%! Articles can go into much more detail but ultimately medical costs, legal costs and claims expenses rise over time and Florida workers compensation rates are rising to catch up for the natural changes that have taken place and certain court rulings have made precedence that support the increased cost. There are fair arguments for and against this change but at this point we work with what we have, so as a business owner what can you do?

The state of Florida is a rate mandated state for Workers Compensation which means the starting rate is the same for everyone based on their classification code, so every carrier should be offering the same rate. There are some exceptions that can be helpful for you to keep in mind. Here are a few things that can help benefit you in combating this increase with a more competitive option:

 

There are some exceptions:  Some of our carriers have programs for particular industries that allow for discounted rates(5% below state set rates) one in particular caters to Retail stores, Restaurants and Professional Offices(Law firms, Accountants, Doctors offices, etc.)

Check with appropriate discount programs:  The Florida workers compensation system has discount options available if you meet the guidelines and have these policies in place for your business. They do have an application for each and require certain protocols in place but these can save 5% on your Florida workers compensation rate.

  • Drug Free Workplace Credit
  • Safety Credit

Divident Plans:  Some of our carriers offer dividend plans in Florida that reward businesses that control their claims. One in particular offers a 5% dividend for businesses paying 5-10k in premium and keeping a loss ratio under 5% and for accounts over 30k in annual premium they can qualify for a 20% dividend if they have a loss ratio under 20%. Like anything they do have some basic eligibility criteria but this is a huge way to reward safe business operations and lower your overhead against your competition.

Review loss control Measures: We do understand accidents do happen, however most accidents with better preparation can be prevented. A few areas to focus on:

Hiring Practices: Hiring the right employees that are experienced in the field and vested in your business are your lifeblood. Don’t put that in the hands of just anyone.

Safety Controls: Start with OSHA basics and if you have a unique business you might need more. Keeping your employees safe and preventing workers comp claims is the best way to save money on your workers comp.

Document everything: If you have safety meetings, a safety policy, drug free workplace, make sure this is all in writing and in your employee handbook. Make sure sign offs are in place so your employees are aware of these policies. This can be a great tool to prevent claims and keep a culture of safety that you take seriously in your business.

Manage your workers compensation claims:  As you develop an Experience MOD over time for your Florida workers compensation claims history, your premium can go up or down based on this experience. This means your premium is directly affected by claims you had 2-5 years ago. Settling those claims and learning from them can help you combat the rising workers comp costs. This process takes time but you will thank yourself in the next couple years as that MOD drops lower.

Buy in to avoid the increase:  If you have not placed your workers comp coverage for your business yet and are in the market, get this coverage before December 1, 2016. This is when the rate change takes place. You will still have to face the rates next year but at least this is one year you are paying 14.5% less on this policy.

Put some skin in the game:  Especially if you are paying premiums in excess of $20,000 annual, Deductible plans as well as coinsurance plans can allow you to put some skin in the game and take on a little risk of your own. Some start as small as $500-$1000 deductibles but go up and the savings increases with that. It might not make a lot of sense for the smaller premium amounts but this is a good tool to help save money without putting too much of your business at risk. Pick a deductible that saves you money and you feel comfortable with.

Alternate payment options:  Plans like Pay-As-You-GO can be helpful tools which allow you to pay your premium when you run your payroll. This won’t change the price but for companies that have a tough time with premiums in the slow season but still have a year round payroll, this can be a great solution.

In times like these were pricing can have such a direct impact on your business and its livelihood, Rate increases are inevitable, however taking these steps above if you are not already, could show savings of up to 25% below market for some clients but 5-10% is very obtainable for most clients. The increase in Florida is a tough one to swallow, however taking these actions could allow you to offset these increases. Speak with one of our Professional Insurance agents to learn how you can implement and benefit from some of these tools.