Worker's Compensation, Insurance

In August of 2014, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) commended a 2.5 percent decrease in worker’s compensation rates. Two months later, cutting close to a further one percent increase was seen as not only feasible, but justified. Claims Journal reported that this could save insurers more than $25 million per year in hospital costs—recent changes in rates for outpatient services have recently resulted in savings of $16 million in workers’ compensation, thanks in no small part to the dropping number of claims and lower wage losses statewide.

What does all this mean for the average Joe? Well, in other states these decreases have come as a result of laws and terms allowing employers to opt out of workers’ compensation insurance to begin with, which many smaller businesses approve of with great acclaim. However, this isn’t the point in Florida, wherein employees are still required to have workers’ compensation insurance if they employ a certain number of workers or more.

Don’t worry, this is actually designed to work for you as much as your employer. While Nerd Wallet reports that workers’ rights advocates have fought against a great deal of the rate decrease due to assumption that lower premiums means less coverage, provided things work out as they should this will improve the treatment and care of those men and women suffering from workplace injuries. Lower rates make it possible for more businesses to obtain good coverage for their employees’ protection, offering better care at a fraction of the cost to all their employees, instead of a minimal amount of care to all employees at dramatically high costs.

The workers’ compensation debate isn’t cut straight across employee, employer lines, so advocates on both sides have found themselves debating the changes side by side. Benefit cuts don’t necessarily work in favor of employers, while rate cuts don’t always work for employees either. It’s a matter of what each business needs to function and how much those needs cost.

The biggest issues to watch out for in recent changes to workers’ compensation insurance is how the changes in premium costs impact the level of care and coverage. Are employers paying less because they’re covering less, or because they’ve had fewer incidents to file in the last year than the ten prior to that? It’s also possible that cuts in coverage come from a lack of requirement, leading to a drop in premium costs. If you work in a factory responsible for testing feather pillows, for instance, it may be a little silly to offer coverage for certain blunt force injuries that could be much more easily obtained in a warehouse environment.

With rates dropping for the first time in years, it’s hard to tell exactly where to stand on Florida’s workers’ compensation issues. Talk to your insurance agent, or your employer’s human resources department, to find out how the recent changes may impact your working life and decide which side of the line to stand on. You may be surprised by what these changes could mean for you personally.