19% Workers’ Compensation Rate Decrease Proposed for Tennessee

NCCI is recommending a sizable rate decrease for Tennessee at -19%.  If approved, the decrease will be effective 3/1/19.  See more information below from Insurance Journal.

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The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has filed for a 19.1 percent decrease for workers’ compensation voluntary market loss costs in Tennessee – the largest recommended decrease since reforms to the state’s workers’ compensation system were passed in 2013.

The filing, made towards the end of August, is based on premium and loss experience for policy years 2015 and 2016, according to a filing executive summary released by NCCI. If approved the rates would go into effect March 1, 2019.

NCCI said the proposed decrease is attributed in part to a continued decrease in Tennessee’s lost-time claim frequency. NCCI also noted that both indemnity average cost per case and medical average cost per case have remained “relatively stable” in recent years after adjusting to a common wage level.

The proposed changes in voluntary loss cost level by industry group are as follows:

If approved, the rate decrease would be the eighth consecutive reduction in workers’ compensation rates. Last year, NCCI filed for a rate reduction of 12.6 percent and a 12.8 percent reduction was approved in 2016. Insurance carriers combine NCCI’s loss cost filings with company experience and expenses to develop insurance rates. In 2017, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance noted that since Tennessee introduced significant changes to its workers’ compensation system in 2014, NCCI filings have totaled loss cost reductions of more than 36 percent.

The workers’ compensation reforms that took effect in 2014 included the creation of a new administrative court system to handle workers’ compensation claims – moving the state’s claims process from a tort system to an administrative one. The reforms also established medical treatment guidelines and provided a clearer standard in determining to what degree an injured worker’s medical condition may have contributed to the cause of an on-the-job injury.

In June, a study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) attributed a drop in the average total cost per workers’ compensation claim of 6 percent in 2015 in part to the state’s workers’ comp system reforms.

“Most of the 6 percent decrease in the average total cost per workers’ compensation claim in Tennessee was from a 24 percent decrease in permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. Total costs per claim incorporate payments for medical treatments, indemnity benefits, and expenses to manage claims,” said Ramona Tanabe, WCRI’s executive vice president and counsel, said in a statement at the time.

The WCRI study, which compared Tennessee workers’ compensation systems in 17 other states, also noted that worker attorney involvement has decreased in recent years and that time to first indemnity payment within 21 days of injury in Tennessee was similar to the other study states during 2016/2017. The study used claims data with injuries dating back to Oct. 1, 2014, and payments made through March 31, 2017.

Insurer trade group the Property Casualty Insurers Association also noted the impact the 2013 reforms have made in the state.

“Tennessee has had excellent financial results in the workers compensation market following the workers compensation reforms of 2013,” said Jeffrey L. Brewer, vice president of PCI Public Affairs. “Claims frequency continues to decline as a result of automation and improved employer safety programs. Loss costs appear to be stable.”

A spokesperson for TDCI said in an e-mail to Insurance Journal that it would be premature for the department to comment on the potential for a rate reduction given that the figures are preliminary and still need to be examined by actuaries. Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak has 90 days from the filing date to make a decision on the filing.

Florida Workers’ Compensation Rates Plummet Again

From our friends at workcompcentral.com…

NCCI Recommends 13.4% Rate Reduction

Two years after insurers and business groups warned of dire consequences from landmark Florida Supreme Court decisions on attorneys’ fees and benefit levels, workers’ compensation rates could soon drop to their lowest level in years.

Bill Herrle

The National Council on Compensation Insurance announced Monday afternoon that it is recommending a 13.4% decrease in rates for Florida, the second straight year that the rating organization has recommended a reduction in the state.

The cut comes two years after a 14.5% rate increase on the heels of Castellanos v. Next Door Co., which struck down statutory limits on attorneys’ fees, and Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, which held that a 104-week cap on temporary disability benefits was unconstitutional.

If approved by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, the latest reduction will mean that workers’ compensation rates for next year will be about 10% lower than they were before the Castellanos and Westphal decisions. That’s roughly what the rates were before the 2003 reform package passed by the Florida Legislature that limited legal fees and benefits duration.

A small-business group predicted that Monday’s filing will spark economic growth.

“The small-business economy in Florida is hot, and it’s going to get a lot hotter as a result of today’s great news from NCCI,” said Bill Herrle, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Florida. “Lower workers’ comp rates equal a direct reduction in small-business owners’ expenses, which means big things for growth.”

A claimants’ attorney said the filing simply puts rates back to their correct level, and that the court rulings have had a much smaller impact that insurers had feared.

“Attorneys’ fees are a product of how well an insurance adjuster handles claims,” said Mark Zientz, a Miami attorney who filed an amicus brief in the Castellanos case. “If they’re handled correctly, there’s no need for high attorney fees.”

The rate reduction shows that insurance carriers since Castellanos have been more careful with claims, which helps them avoid expensive litigation, he said.

The size of the recommended rate reduction was not surprising, Zientz said, because “from 2003 to 2015, rates were inflated for no good reason.”

An explanation of the filing from the NCCI notes that the rate reflects fewer losses by insurers, which is largely the result of a long-term and nationwide decline in the number of claims filed by injured workers.

Some claimants’ attorneys have said the drop in claims reflects a greater emphasis on workplace safety; shows that because of reduced benefit levels in some states, some workers don’t bother with filing claim; and shows that a growing number of U.S. workers are now considered independent contractors, not employees who receive benefits.

The NCCI did not dismiss the court rulings altogether but said that full impact of the two cases will not be known for years to come. So far, though, “the favorable loss experience in policy years 2015 and 2016 has more than offset the combined cost increases that have emerged from those court decisions.”

The NCCI obtained data from the state’s largest workers’ compensation carriers, and the data is consistent with NCCI’s initial assessment of how Castellanos would impact the Florida marketplace, the organization said. Most carriers reported some amount of claim cost increases, but many insurers were not materially affected.

The ratio of claimant attorney fees to benefit settlement amounts has climbed, from 13% in 2014 to 22% through June of this year, the NCCI filing said, quoting data from the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.

Indeed, last week at the Workers’ Compensation Institute’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida’s Deputy Chief Compensation Judge David Langham presented data that showed the impact of Castellanos may be felt for a number of years.

Although the number of petitions filed in compensation claims has remained relatively flat for the past decade, claimants’ attorneys’ fees climbed 36% in fiscal 2016-2017, the year after the court ruling, Langham said at the conference. In 2017-2018, claimants’ attorneys’ fees increased another 7%.

Despite that, paid loss ratios have dropped significantly since 2010, most sharply since 2015, the NCCI filing data shows.

“The primary driver behind the recommended rate decrease is the long-term decline in claim frequency offsetting increases in claim severity, and cost increases from the Castellanos and Westphal court cases,” the filing’s explanatory memo reads. “Policy year 2017 will be the first full policy year post-Castellanos, but the full effects of that court decision will not materialize for several years to come.”

Also at the WCI conference last week, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier predicted that the expected NCCI rate recommendation would be the determining factor on whether legislation would be introduced next spring to address attorneys’ fees. On Monday, Altmaier’s office did not comment on the filing before the close of business.

If recent history is a guide, the lower rates may mean that a further attempt to cap attorneys’ fees will be all but forgotten in the 2019 legislative session. A 9.5% rate reduction earlier this year surprised many and took some steam out of employers’ demands for new limits on fees.

Herrle’s statement Monday did not mention the cost of lawyers.

“Small-business owners are reporting record high levels of optimism, according to NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index, and news like lower workers’ comp rates fuels their confidence,” Herrle said. “Small-business owners are in the driver’s seat, and Florida’s economy can look forward to the results — increased job growth, increased wages, and unprecedented expansion overall for the small-business sector.”

Is Your Co-Employed Policy Being Evidenced Properly on your Acord 25 Certificate of Liability Insurance (COI)?

PEO COI 101

A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can secure workers’ compensation coverage for their client companies a number of different ways.  The structure and naming conventions used on each policy are often set by the state in which coverage is afforded.  The NCCI classes these policy types with an Policy Type Code of 1-8.  The attributes of each policy type dictates how coverage for that policy should be evidenced on an Acord 25 Certificate of Liability Insurance (COI).  Not surprisingly, however, many agencies servicing PEO clients, who have limited knowledge of the complex and varying PEO policy structures used to properly insure co-employed employees, often evidence coverage improperly on COIs.

Below is a brief tutorial outlining the 5 most common PEO policy types to help you make sure your COIs are being generated properly.

Common PEO Policy Types:

  1. Master Policy
    1. 1st Named insured is PEO
    2. Policy includes the applicable blanket Alternate Employer Endorsement(s) as required by each state, extending coverage to the client companies of the PEO
    3. Co-employment exists
    4. NCCI Policy Type 8
  2. Multiple Coordinated Policy (MCP)
    1. Naming convention is established by the State(s) where coverage is provided and typically includes both the PEO and Client Company as the 1st named insured
      1. i.e. “PEO Name L/C/F Client Name”
      2. i.e. “PEO Name for workers leased to Client Name”
    2. No alternate employer endorsement is needed as both the PEO and the Client are named as insureds on the policy
    3. Co-employment exists
    4. NCCI Policy Type 4
  3. Client Direct Purchase
    1. 1st Named insured is the Client Company
    2. Policy includes an alternate employer endorsement naming the PEO
    3. Co-employment exists; coverage is also extended to non-leased employees
    4. NCCI Policy Type Code 7
  4. Mini-Master Policy
    1. 1st Named insured is PEO
    2. Policy includes an alternate employer endorsement naming only one client company and its affiliated entities
    3. Co-employment exists
    4. NCCI Policy Type Code 5
  5. Alternate Services Offering (ASO)
    1. 1st Named insured is the Client Company
    2. Policy does not include an alternate employer endorsement and the PEO is not named on the policy
    3. NO co-employment exists
    4. NCCI Policy Type Code 1

 

Proper COI Structure by PEO Policy Type:

Policy Type Insured Section of COI Description of Operations (DOO) section of COI Notes
Master Name of PEO as listed on the Policy Dec Page Client Company being evidenced and effective date when coverage was extended to that Client Company is stated here DOO should include a disclaimer stating coverage is extended to leased employees except in monopolistic states and any other coverage details pertinent to evidenced policy
MCP Name of PEO and Client Company as listed on the Policy Dec Page Client Company being evidenced and effective date when coverage was extended to that Client Company is stated here DOO should include a disclaimer stating coverage is extended to leased employees except in monopolistic states and any other coverage details pertinent to evidenced policy
Client Direct Name of Client Company as listed on the Policy Dec Page PEO is listed as alternate employer DOO should include a disclaimer stating coverage is extended to leased and non-leased employees except in monopolistic states and any other coverage details pertinent to evidenced policy
Mini-Master Name of PEO as listed on the Policy Dec Page Client Company being evidenced and effective date when coverage was extended to that Client Company is stated here DOO should include a disclaimer stating coverage is extended to leased employees except in monopolistic states and any other coverage details pertinent to evidenced policy
ASO Name of Client Company as listed on the Policy Dec Page Nothing specific to co-employment is needed Nothing specific to co-employment is needed

Speak to an experienced PEO agent to learn more.

 

Engage PEO Named 2018 Fast 50 Honoree by the South Florida Business Journal

(MENAFN Editorial) Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA — Engage PEO, a professional employer organization providing HR outsourcing solutions to small and mid-sized businesses across the U.S., was recently honored as one of South Florida Business Journal’s 2018 Fast 50, recognizing the region’s 50 fastest-growing private companies. The official award ceremony and celebration will take place on Thursday, August 16 in Miami.

Companies recognized with this honor have demonstrated significant growth in the past three years. The Fast 50 is a compilation of two Top 25 lists: one for companies with more than $25 million in annual revenue, and one for companies with less than $25 million in annual revenue.

“Joining the ranks of the South Florida Business Journal’s Fast 50 is a clear indication of our unparalleled industry growth and expertise, which translates to strong client relationships and sustained business growth,” said Jay Starkman, CEO of Engage PEO. “We are proud to be listed amongst the fastest growing businesses in South Florida, and will continue to provide personalized human resource and compliance solutions so our clients can then focus on what truly matters: thriving.”

Engage was also named one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. on Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 list in 2016 and 2017; over the course of the last four years, no PEO has grown faster. Additionally, Engage recently received another distinction from the Internal Revenue Service that recognizes the company as one of the first professional employer organizations in the U.S. to earn “Certified Professional Employer Organization” status. This new designation ensures greater benefits for small and mid-sized businesses, such as tax advantages and financial protections.

About Engage PEO
Engage PEO delivers comprehensive HR solutions to small and mid-sized businesses nationwide, sharpening their competitive advantage. Comprised of the industry’s most respected veteran professional employer organization executives, certified HR professionals and attorneys, Engage PEO provides hands-on, expert HR services and counsel to help clients minimize cost and maximize efficiency for stronger business performance. The company’s superior service offering includes a full range of health and workers’ compensation insurance products, payroll technology and tax administration, risk management services and advanced technology as part of an extensive suite of HR services. Engage PEO was recently awarded the designation of Certified Professional Employer Organization (CPEO) by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), ensuring greater benefits for small and mid-sized businesses such as tax advantages and financial protections. Engage PEO is also accredited by the Employer Services Assurance Corporation. In 2016 and 2017, Engage PEO was named to Inc. magazine’s list of the 5000 fastest growing companies. For more information on Engage PEO visit http://www.engagepeo.com.

The IRS does not endorse any particular certified professional employer organization. For more information on certified professional employer organizations go to http://www.IRS.gov.

Contact Information

 

  • Name: Sloane FistelCompany: rbb Communications for Engage PEO
  • Telephone: 305-249-1171

Website: 

Greetings from the NCCI Annual Issues Symposium (AIS)

The National Council this morning gave its annual update on the state of the workers’ compensation line.  As always, Chief Actuary Kathy Antonello did an awesome job of updating the most senior workers’ comp professionals across the globe on all of the relevant economic performance indicators that help us to understand this line of insurance.

The full report can be found off the NCCI website…

https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Pages/II_NewsFromAIS.aspx

…as well as other conference highlights.  Some key points to me from the report:

  • The expected combined ratio for this year is the lowest in almost half a century at an 89.  This is 5 points lower then last year’s 94.  This indicates an operating margin of 11 points on average.
  • The investment income gain went from 10.4% to 12% this year, effectively providing an overall return to workers’ compensation insurers of 23%
  • The overall market volume dropped from $45.6b to $45b in premiums, mostly due to rate drops countrywide.
  • The top five class codes (hardest to place) in the residual market are:
    • Carpentry 5645
    • Roofing 5551
    • Local Trucking 7228
    • Painting 5474
    • Long Haul Trucking 7229

I’d expect a lot of capital support for the line due to these results.

Always a great event and wonderful to catch up with so many friends –

GEX Management And LL Roberts Group To Open Joint Sales & Service Center In Northwest Arkansas

Nothing makes me prouder than to see two of Libertate’s clients partnering together to grow the PEO model in my home state of Arkansas.  Congrats, best of luck and Whoo Pig Sooie!!!

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DALLASMay 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — GEX Management, Inc. (OTCQB: GXXM), announced that it has reached agreement in principle with LL Roberts Group, a Dallas, Texas-based Professional Employer Organization (PEO), to jointly open and operate a PEO Sales & Service Center in Northwest Arkansas. The center will offer and service a variety of employee administration needs for small and mid-sized businesses. These services will include professional payroll and employment tax administration, workers’ compensation coverage without deposits or year-end audits, a 401(k) plan with no client maintenance fees, group medical, dental, and vision plans, innovative benefits such as Teladoc, as well as Human Resources and Risk Management consultative support.

 GEX Management’s Founder and CEO, Mr. Carl Dorvil, stated, “PEO services are a tremendous resource that can only have a positive impact on the robust economy and rapid growth of Northwest Arkansas.” LL Roberts Group President and CEO, Mr. LJ Roberts, added “We are proud to join GEX Management in introducing high-quality employee administration solutions to businesses across Northwest Arkansas. 

Launch of this Northwest Arkansas PEO Sales & Service Center is slated for May or early June of 2018.

About GEX Management
GEX Management, Inc. is a licensed Professional Employer Organization (PEO) and a Professional Services Company providing comprehensive back office services to clients including HR, Payroll, Risk & Compliance, and Executive Consulting, and provides progressive and complete solutions for employee management and operational needs. http: www.gexmanagement.com

Information on Forward Looking Statements
The statements contained herein that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws (Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934). You can identify such forward-looking statements by the words “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “projects,” “believes,” “estimates,” “likely,” “possibly,” “probably,” “goal,” “opportunity,” “objective,” “target,” “assume,” “outlook,” “guidance,” “predicts,” “appears,” “indicator” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties. In the normal course of business, GEX Management, Inc., in an effort to help keep our stockholders and the public informed about our operations, may from time to time issue such forward-looking statements, either orally or in writing. Generally, these statements relate to business plans or strategies, projected or anticipated benefits or other consequences of such plans or strategies, or projections involving anticipated revenues, earnings, profits, pricing, operating expenses or other aspects of operating results. We base the forward-looking statements on our expectations, estimates, and projections at the time such statements are made. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties that we cannot predict. In addition, we have based many of these forward-looking statements on assumptions about future events that may prove to be inaccurate. The actual results of the future events described in such forward-looking statements could differ materially from those stated in such forward-looking statements.

Milliman’s gradient A.I. platform brings first A.I. predictive analytics solution to the professional employer organization (PEO) market

Huge news announced today by Milliman in the world of artificial intelligence (see below press release).  Milliman’s gradient A.I. is the first solution of its kind to be applied to PEO underwriting and claims management.  We at Libertate have been working with Milliman on this project for the past 18 months as we always felt there weren’t enough tools in the marketplace to help our clients price and evaluate risk.  Let’s discuss in more detail this week in Houston at NAPEO’s Risk Management conference!  Call me for more details at 305.495.5173.

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SEATTLE – MARCH 19, 2018 – Milliman, Inc., a leading global provider of actuarial, risk management, and technology solutions, today announced that gradient A.I., a Milliman predictive analytics platform, now offers a professional employer organization (PEO)-specific solution for managing workers’ compensation risk. gradient A.I. is an advanced analytics and A.I. platform that uncovers hidden patterns in big data to deliver a daily decision support system (DSS) for insurers, self-insurers, and PEOs. It’s the first solution of its kind to be applied to PEO underwriting and claims management.

“Obtaining workers’ compensation insurance capacity has been historically difficult because of the lack of credible data to understand a PEO’s expected loss outcomes. Additionally, there were no formal pricing tools specific to the PEO community for use with any level of credibility – until gradient A.I. Pricing within a loss sensitive environment can now be done with the science of Milliman combined with the instinct and intuition of the PEO,” says Paul Hughes, CEO of Libertate/RiskMD, an insurance agency/data analytics firm that specializes in providing coverage and consulting services to PEOs. “Within a policy term we can understand things like claims frequency and profitability, and we can get very good real-time month-to-month directional insight, in terms of here’s what you should have expected, here’s what happened, and as a result did we win or lose?”

gradient A.I., a transformational insurtech solution, aggregates client data from multiple sources, deposits it into a data warehouse, and normalizes the data in comprehensive data silos. “The uniqueness for PEOs and their service providers – and the power of gradient A.I. – emerges from the application of machine-learning capabilities on the PEOs data normalization,” says Stan Smith, a predictive analytics consultant and Milliman’s gradient A.I. practice leader. “With the gradient A.I. data warehouse, companies can reduce time, costs, and resources.”

To learn more, go to https://www.gradientai.com/. For more on how gradient A.I. and Libertate brought predictive analytics solutions to PEOs, go to http://www.milliman.com/gradient-AI-Libertate-case-study/.

About Milliman

Milliman is among the world’s largest providers of actuarial, risk management and technology solutions. Our consulting and advanced analytics capabilities encompass healthcare, property & casualty insurance, life insurance and financial services, and employee benefits. Founded in 1947, Milliman is an independent firm with offices in major cities around the globe. For further information, visit milliman.com.

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Approved WC Legal Fees up 36 percent in 16-17, what will the 17-18 fiscal year look like?

Injured workers racked up nearly $186 million in approved legal fees in 2016-2017, a 36 percent increase from the previous year, a state report on the workers’ compensation insurance system shows.  This is with the Castellanos v. Next Door Company ruling, which repealed restrictive attorney fees caps, only being in place for 7 out of 12 month in the 16 -17 fiscal year.

In all, attorneys’ fees in the workers compensation system totaled nearly $440 million during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. The majority — nearly $254 million — were forked out by employers defending workers’ compensation claims.

Issued by the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims, the 2016-2017 annual report notes that $185.6 million in approved legal fees for injured workers is the highest amount paid in nearly a decade and is attributable to a 2016 Florida Supreme Court ruling.

“Clearly, there is a trend suggested of increasing claimant attorneys’ fees in the wake of (the ruling),” the report, released last month, notes.

The report shows that in 2016-2017, more than $75 million in hourly fees were approved for claimants’ attorneys, a nearly 200 percent increase from the $25.8 million in hourly fees that were approved the previous year.

During the same period, the report shows that fees paid to workers’ compensation attorneys under legislatively approved fee caps decreased about 31 percent.

It is the second consecutive year that legal fees increased for injured workers and employers and reverses what had been a five-year trend of lower legal costs for both sides in workers’ compensation cases.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system meant to protect workers and employers. It is supposed to provide workers who are injured on the job access to medical benefits they need to be made whole. Those who are injured for at least eight days also are entitled to indemnity benefits, or lost wages. In exchange for providing those benefits, employers generally cannot be sued in court for causing injuries.

While the system is supposed to be self-executing, injured workers hire attorneys when there are disputes over the amounts of benefits they should receive.

Florida businesses faced some of the highest workers’ compensation costs in the country in the early 2000s. Business interests argued that attorney involvement — legal fees in the aggregate totaled $427 million in fiscal year 2002-2003 — was the reason for the high costs.

The Legislature responded by passing a sweeping rewrite of the workers’ compensation system in 2003 that, among other things, tied the recovery of plaintiff attorneys’ fees to percentages of the amount of recovered benefits. The law was tweaked in 2009 to make clear that workers’ compensation judges were precluded from awarding additional hourly fees for plaintiffs’ attorneys.

But in a 2016 ruling known as Castellanos v. Next Door Company, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the restrictive fee caps violated injured workers’ due process rights and authorized judges to award fees outside the fee schedule if adhering to it yielded unreasonable results.

Business interests lobbied the Legislature earlier this year to, at a minimum, limit the hourly rates that attorneys could charge. But lawmakers did not approve a change.

Despite the marked increase in legal costs for 2016-2017, the report notes that when adjusted for inflation, aggregate attorneys’ fees in Florida workers’ compensation have decreased by more than $100 million over the past 14 years.

Source: https://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/legal-fees-increase-in-workers-comp-system