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).

 

Cable Installers

Necessary Insurance Policies for Cable Installation Businesses

Cable television and internet services are a regular part of the lives of most people in 2019. Cable installers provide a service that installs programming over both fiber optic and coaxial cables. The services can be sent both digitally or by satellite. Cable installers may lay lines or cables throughout a property. Because the work is done primarily on third party locations and the properties vary greatly, there is a lot of risk involved in the industry. Business that operate in this industry need to take insuring the business seriously. Taking an additional amount of time to think about the risks the business face, thinking about what could go wrong, and how leadership might prevent these risks from taking place are strongly recommended for any cable installation business. Speaking with an independent insurance agent can help make the purchasing decision easier. Here are five policies all cable installers should strongly consider.

Installation, Cabling, Electricity, and Electrical done by a cable installer.

Recommended Insurance Programs for Cable Installation

Minimum recommended coverage:

  • General Liability
  • Workers Compensation
  • Inland Marine Coverage
  • Commercial Auto Insurance
  • Business Personal Property

General Liability

General Liability Insurance is the first line of defense for cable installers looking to protect themselves from the liability faced to outside third parties. This policy covers basic liability, but is not all encompassing. It is important to take an adequate amount of time to discuss with an insurance agent what exactly the employees of a business do and do not partake in on a daily basis. There are more than likely additional policies any business will need in addition to general liability insurance.

Workers Compensation

Workers Compensation Insurance is required by law for most businesses in most states. The policy protects injured employees with coverage for medical costs and some lost wages while they are hurt and not able to work. Many contracts require a business to provide a certificate of insurance proving they have both GL and WC insurance. There are some states that have exclusions depending upon the number of employees and the annual revenue of the business. If the business is owned by one person and that person is the only employee, there is a ghost policy that is much cheaper to purchase and will meet the demands of most contracts.

Inland Marine Coverage

Inland Marine covers tools and specialized equipment that is frequently in transit. If the tools are damaged while working or being stored at a third party location, the inland marine policy will cover to repair or replace the tools.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Commercial Auto Insurance is needed if the business has employees who operate vehicles that the business owns. If the employees use their personal vehicle for business purposes, a hired and non-owned auto needs to be purchased either instead of or in addition to a commercial auto insurance policy. When an employee causes a wreck while on company time, the business is liable for the damages to outside third parties. The employee is not liable. Failing to secure the proper type of commercial auto insurance can result in a large loss the business is responsible for.

Business Income with Extra Expense

Business Income with Extra Expense Coverage is designed to cover expenses during a time when the business is interrupted or fully shut down as a result of a covered loss. It is important to remember the underlying loss has to be covered. If the loss is caused by a flood, earthquake, or tornado; and the business does not have proper coverage in place; the business income policy is not triggered. This is another reason why it is so crucial to speak long and honestly with your insurance agent and not base your purchasing decision solely on price.

Additional Policies to consider:
Building, Equipment Breakdown, Contractors Equipment, Cyber Liability, Employment Practices Liability, and Umbrella Coverage.

Cable Installers also work with satellites.

Cable Installation Liability Classification Codes

Commercial insurance companies use various liability classification systems in order to classify and rate coverage premiums for Cable Installation. Here are the most common business insurance classifications for Cable Installers:

Business Liability Category: TV and Media Installation

SIC Business Insurance Codes:

  • 4841: Cable and Other Pay TV Services

NAICS Liability Classifications:

  • 517110: Wired Telecommunications Carriers
  • 515210: Cable and Other Subscription Programming

Business ISO General Liability:

  • 91315: Cable and Subscription TV Companies

Common Workers Compensation Class Codes:

  • 7536: Cable Installation and Construction
  • 8901: Cable and Telecommunications—Office Employees
  • 7600: Cable TV or Satellite—Other Employees and Drivers
  • 6325: Conduit Construction—for Cables or Wires
  • 8742: Outside Sales Persons

Mortgage Brokers

Recommended Insurance Coverages for Mortgage Brokers

Mortgage Brokers are an essential part of the economy i 2019. They act as middlemen helping realtors get home buyers the best solutions to all their mortgage needs. Mortgage Brokers are individual financial institutions that lend the funds for the purchase of property. The properties can be for both business and personal use. Some mortgage companies also service escrow accounts, offer some real estate services, and some even broker or sell mortgage loans to other operations. With each type of service the business offers additional risk is taken on by the financial institution. Here are five types of insurance all mortgage brokerage businesses should consider.

Picture of a house with a Mortgage Broker handing the keys to the new homeowner.

Minimum recommended coverage:

  • General Liability
  • Workers Compensation
  • Errors & Omissions (Professional Liability)
  • Hired and Non-Owned Auto
  • Property Insurance

Answers to your Mortgage Broker Insurance Questions.General Liability

General Liability Insurance for Mortgage Brokers is usually the first type of coverage a broker needs. It protects the broker from common slips, trips, and falls. These incidents can happen at the location of the mortgage broker or at a third party site. A General Liability Policy can cover damage in the form of bodily injury and property damage.

Workers Compensation

Workers Compensation is typically the second policy the owner of a mortgage brokerage service discusses with their insurance agent. This is because General Liability and Workers Compensation are required by law for most businesses in most states. Workers Compensation covers a business for injuries to employees that happen within the normal course of business. The policy covers medical costs and some lost wages for injured employees who are hurt and not able to work. Implementing a well-documented safety program and focusing on ergonomics within the workplace can help limit the amount of injuries your employees experience.

Errors & Omissions (Professional Liability)

Errors & Omissions is frequently referred to as Professional Liability. In other industries it may be referred to as malpractice. This type of insurance protects businesses and their employees from claims of negligence or  inadequate work. Any business that gives professional advice for a fee needs to secure an errors and omissions insurance policy.

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

Car Accident with a red car flipped over lying upside down. Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance is designed for when an employee uses their personal car or when an employee drives a rental car for purposes. It is common for a mortgage broker to meet at a third party site for many business functions. When they are driving to and from these appointments, the business is liable for damages occurred when the employee causes a wreck. A Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance Policy can protect the business, up to the limits of the policy, from the liability it faces when an employee causes an accident while on company time.

Property Insurance

Commercial Property Insurance is designed to protect any business from both legal liability and property damage related to the building they operate in regardless of whether the business owns or leases the facility. Most commercial property insurance policies provide coverage for a wide variety of damages that usually include fire, smoke, wind, vandalism and civil disobedience. The policies frequently list included and excluded damages. Some common exclusions often include damages resulting from earthquakes and hail. These damages may have a separate deductibles or be excluded from coverage altogether. One thing to ask your agent when purchasing commercial property insurance is the differences between actual cash value and replacement cost.

 

Other coverages to consider for Mortgage Brokers:
Business Personal Property, Extra Expense, Financial Institutions Bond, Accounts Receivable, Computers, Valuable Papers and Records, Directors and Officers Liability, Employee Benefits, Umbrella Coverage, Computer Fraud, Extortion, Cyber liability Insurance (Data Breach Coverage), EPLI and Mortgage Errors & Omissions.

Mortgage Brokers Liability Classification Codes

Commercial insurance companies use various liability classification systems in order to classify and rate coverage premiums for Mortgage Brokers. Here are the most common business insurance classification for Mortgage Companies:

Business Liability Category: Financial Institutions

SIC Business Insurance Codes for Mortgage Brokers:
  • 6162: Mortgage Bankers and Loan Correspondents
  • 6163: Loan Brokers
NAICS Liability Classifications:
  • 522292: Real Estate Credit
  • 522390: Activities Related to Credit Inter-mediation
  • 522310: Mortgage and Non Mortgage Loan Brokers
Business ISO General Liability for Mortgage Brokers:
  • 61223: Banks and Other Financial Institutions
  • 61226: Office—Other Than Non-Profit
  • 61224: Office—Building Occupied by Business Employees
Common Workers Compensation Class Codes:
  • 8810: Office and Clerical
  • 8772: Outside Sales and Messengers

Swimming Pool Maintenance

A Swimming Pool Maintenance Company has unique risks only the right insurance can take care of

A Swimming Pool Maintenance Companies are fairly unique businesses that exist within a specific niche. Because of the specialization of this niche, there are unique risks that only small businesses within this industry face. Businesses within this industry help clients maintain a cleanly and healthy pool environment during the warmer months of the year. The local lifeguard might be able to put chemicals in the water on a regular basis, but service technicians are trained professionals who can fix problems that exist among all types of swimming pool facilities. This expertise brings about a tremendous amount of risk that a business needs to be protected from. Here are ten types of insurance all Swimming Pool Maintenance Companies should consider.

Outdoor Pool near a beach setting displaying the need for a Swimming Pool Maintenance Company.

General Liability Insurance

General Liability Insurance is designed to cover basic property damage and bodily injury claims that your business may be liable for to third parties. It provides broad liability coverage for both personal injuries and property damage that occurs as a result of the actions of your business. Some common claims include advertising errors, libel, slander, defamation, as well as common slips, trips, and falls caused by your employees. It is important to remember that general liability insurance is not all encompassing. There are exclusions included in all general liability policies and there are additional coverages needed by nearly all swimming pool maintenance companies.

Workers Compensation

For purposes of Workers Compensation, a Swimming Pool Maintenance Company is given NCCI Class Code 9014. In most states, workers compensation is required by law for most businesses who have employees. There are some states who have exclusions based upon the size and structure of your business. even if your business is allowed to not carry coverage, it is not a wise decision to go without coverage if you have employees. Workers Compensation Insurance provides medical benefits and some lost wages to employees when they are hurt on the job. A business benefits from not being able to be sued for most employee injuries that occur as a part of normal business operations.

Lap Swimming Pool

Commercial Property

No matter if your business owns or rents a property, you need to secure some form of commercial property insurance in order to protect your business from property damage. Commercial property insurance protects your businesses physical assets from risks including fire, explosions, bursting pipes, hail storms, tornadoes, theft, and even vandalism. Natural disasters including hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods commonly are not covered by this coverage. These perils are typically not covered unless added to the policy. Commercial property insurance also covers most things inside your property including:  computers, furniture, equipment, exterior signs, fencing, landscaping, important documents, and inventory.

Commercial Auto Insurance

A Commercial Auto Insurance Policy is needed for a swimming pool maintenance company if they have any employees who operate a motor vehicle while on the job. Some form of commercial auto insurance policy is needed by a business regardless of whether the vehicles are owned or leased by the business. If the automobiles are owned, a traditional commercial auto policy will suffice. If a business has employees who use their personal vehicles, the business needs to secure a Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance Policy. This type of policy will also need to be secured if a business has employees who operate rented vehicles while on the job.

Inland Marine Coverage

Inland Marine Insurance is designed for equipment that is frequently in transit or stored at a third party location. If a business uses a trailor to transport equipment to a clients location, the trailor and all of the equipment loaded on the trailor are not covered by the businesses commercial auto insurance policy. This is why an inland marine insurance is necessary. This policy is best to be added to a suite of policies in order to avoid gaps in coverage.

Indoor swimming facilities need the specialization of a Swimming Pool Maintenance Company.

Cyber Insurance

If a swimming pool maintenance business accepts credit and debit cards as a form of payment, it needs to consider some form of cyber insurance. This is especially true if any of the information is stored for any period of time. Data Breaches are becoming more prevalent and small businesses are a prime target as most enterprise level businesses have put in place adequate cyber security measures. Cyber Insurance is almost always sold in a package of two policies. One deals with the first party damages to the business and the other deals with the third party liability a business faces to third parties damage as a result of a data breach.

Business Income and Extra Expense

Business Income and Extra Expense Coverage helps cover the cost of lost income a business experiences when it has to be closed for a period of time after a covered loss. The key to the policy is that the underlying claim has to be a covered loss. If a business is closed due to an earthquake and the proper insurance was not in place, this coverage will not be activated. This coverage can be used if the business is entirely closed or the normal business operations are interrupted.  In many instances, this coverage is the difference between a business being closed for a short time period and never opening the doors of the business again.

Surety Bond

A Surety Bond is an agreement between three parties, The three parties involved include the swimming pool maintenance company, the client, and the insurance company. The agreement insures the insurance company will pay your client an agreed upon amount if the business cannot deliver up to the standards of the contract. Many times a bond is required as part of a contractual agreement. The difference between a bond and a insurance policy is that the business is required to pay the insurance company back instead of just a deductible. Not all businesses are eligible for a bond depending upon the insurance carrier they are partnering with. Carriers prefer to offer bonds to established companies with a clean claims history.

Lifeguard Ring left out for the Swimming Pool Maintenance Company to clean up.

Umbrella Insurance

An Umbrella Insurance Policy is a cost effective way to ad to the limits of any existing policies. the way an umbrella policy works is that it will kick in only when the limits of another covered loss have been met. Take for example is a commercial property insurance policy has a limit of $500,000 on a property that is worth $400,000. There are additional cost associated with cleanup and removal of all debris. Also, there may be new ordinance or laws that are required int he state, county, or city that were not existent when the property was previously built. In order to bring the new building up to code, the cost of the new property may exceed the $500,000 of the commercial property insurance policy. In this case an Umbrella Policy would kick in to cover the additional costs up to the limits of the Umbrella Policy.

Business Owner’s Package (BOP)

A BOP is a suite of insurance policies designed for a specific industry and they are created to save a business money while preventing any gaps in coverage. Insurance carriers have decades worth of claims data to determine what types of claims certain businesses within certain industries are likely to face. Because of this information, carriers design a recommend package of policies for businesses within a particular industry and a specific classification code. Partnering with an independent insurance agent is a great way to determine which package of products is best for your business.

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.

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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.

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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.