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.

New York Workers’ Compensation Rates to Drop 11.7%

For the third year in a row, rtes will drop in New York this year.  This adjustment was recently approved and will take effect on 10.1.18.  More from our friends at the Insurance Journal…

Regulators Approve 11.7% Rate Reduction for Third Cut in Three Years

The New York Department of Financial Services has approved an overall loss-cost rate decrease of 11.7%, the third straight year that the department has fully endorsed a recommended rate cut.

The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board recommended the latest reduction in May, and the DFS approved it last week. It takes effect Oct. 1.

The recommended change, following a 4.5% reduction a year ago, was based on the latest statistical data reported by the rating board’s member carriers and reflects the application of generally accepted actuarial principles and methodologies, the board said in May.

Insurance and employer groups have said the reductions are largely the result of legislation over the last two years that was designed to cut benefits expenses for employers. Workers’ advocates said the cuts are due more to the fact that the number of claims have dropped significantly nationwide, more workers are considered independent contractors, and workers may have difficulties navigating New York’s complex comp system.

The 11.7% reduction also comes a month after the state Board of Workers’ Compensation announced a plan to raise medical fees for the first time in years — as much as 23% for physicians. Without that, the recommended rate reduction would have been even greater, the rate filing memorandum suggested.

Loss-of-use impairment guidelines, passed by the 2017 Legislature, accounted for almost a third of the proposed rate reduction, the filing said. Under previous guidelines, some injuries could be “stacked” to provide higher impairment ratings.

New Rules for California Large Deductible Programs

In a move aimed to curb carrier insolvencies in the State of California, there is a proposed rule up for discussion in August to change the carriers able to offer these types of programs as well as the way they are administered by those less then an AM Best straight “A” rating.  Specifically…

The draft rules would require that carriers writing large-deductible policies maintain a minimum credit rating of “A” with A.M. Best Co., a rating of “A” or “A” with Standard and Poor’s, a rating of “A1” or “A2” with Moody’s Investment Services, or a Fitch Ratings Inc. rating of “A” or “A.”

The other oddity is that they think carriers do not already collateralize large deductible programs…

“Carriers that do not meet both the credit rating and capital requirements would be required to collateralize the amount they expect an insured to pay as reimbursement for claim costs. Carriers could satisfy the security requirements by ensuring that an employer sets aside money for the exclusive purpose of collateralizing the large-deductible policy.

That happens every day?

I find this rule shortsighted as it is not the rating of the carrier that is as important as the way the carriers manage these programs.  Institutionalizing minimum financial ratings for large deductibles in my opinion is just a “cya” for regulators, hurts the open market and limits this product to the “big boys”.  The regulators  need to pay more attention to the process, the carriers and filings that govern them and they would continue in a business-friendly atmosphere and not suffer the hits to the guaranty fund.

Finance Department Projects Millions in Savings From Large-Deductible Rules

Soon-to-be-proposed rules that would increase capital and credit requirements for carriers writing large-deductible workers’ compensation policies in California could prevent insolvencies and save tens of millions of dollars a year, according to the Department of Finance.

The Department of Insurance plans to start the formal rule-making process Friday by opening up a public comment period on proposed regulations intended to ensure that insurers writing policies with deductibles of $100,000 or more are able to handle the risk of a covered employer becoming insolvent or failing to reimburse the carrier for claim costs, according to an agency official who spoke on the condition that he not be identified.

The department plans to hold a public hearing on the proposed rules in August.

Although officials were not ready Friday to speak about the rules publicly, the department submitted draft rules to the Finance Department. That is required when state agencies estimate that the impact of a regulatory proposal may exceed $50 million in costs.

The draft rules would require that carriers writing large-deductible policies maintain a minimum credit rating of “A” with A.M. Best Co., a rating of “A” or “A” with Standard and Poor’s, a rating of “A1” or “A2” with Moody’s Investment Services, or a Fitch Ratings Inc. rating of “A” or “A.”

Additionally, the rules would require carriers to maintain a sum of paid-in-capital — the amount of money invested in a company used to represent earnings from selling equity — of at least $500 million.

Carriers could also satisfy the requirement by being part of a holding company group that maintains a qualifying credit rating and has sufficient equity.

Carriers that do not meet both the credit rating and capital requirements would be required to collateralize the amount they expect an insured to pay as reimbursement for claim costs. Carriers could satisfy the security requirements by ensuring that an employer sets aside money for the exclusive purpose of collateralizing the large-deductible policy.

Irena Asmundson, chief economist for the Department of Finance, said in a May 21 letter to the Insurance Department that the proposed rules are estimated to increase costs to employers by about $20 million per year. However, the rules are expected to prevent one insurer insolvency every four years, and fewer insolvencies are expected to save about $42 million a year.

Asmundson said the projections were based on the department’s representations in a standardized regulatory impact assessment submitted in April.

An impact assessment summary, signed by Deputy Insurance Commissioner Geoffrey Margolis, says four insurance carriers have become insolvent over the last 15 years “largely because of their involvement with high-deductible workers’ compensation insurance policies.”

Nationally, the four companies had an estimated $624 million in combined incurred losses, $360 million of which arose from the Golden State and were passed on to the California Insurance Guarantee Association.

Margolis said mitigating the risk of insurer insolvencies would shield CIGA from incurring liability for some claims and reduce assessments the guaranty association charges to carriers.

The Department of Insurance has reviewed data for all work comp carriers in California and determined only nine that are writing large-deductible policies would fall short of the proposed credit risk requirements, according to the impact assessment.

The full impact assessment says the nine insurers could pursue mergers or acquisitions, start writing different lines of insurance or phase out large-deductible policies to raise capital to meet the $500 million threshold. But the “most reasonable plan of action” would be for the nine carriers, who are not identified by name in the assessment, to collateralize their deductible receivables.

The carriers have an aggregate $200 million in deductible premium for work comp policies in California. The Insurance Department estimates that the total amount that would need to be collateralized to protect against the risk of potential unpaid future deductibles is about $800 million.

“By requiring that employers obtain additional collateral that is set aside specifically for paying workers’ compensation deductibles, an insurer may protect its obligations without significantly alienating its client employers who might otherwise have to alter their business operations,” the assessment says.

Margolis said during a telephone interview Friday that he wouldn’t discuss specific provisions until regulatory language is proposed at the start of formal rule-making process. Speaking generally about the pending rules, he said, “Insurance Commissioner (Dave) Jones’ goal is to provide reasonable, tailored guides for insurers writing high deductible policies and reduce the risk of insolvency associated with them.”

It’s not clear how carriers view the proposal.

Jeremy Merz, western region vice president of state affairs for the American Insurance Association, said he had not seen the copy of the draft rules posted to the Department of Finance website and could not comment on them.

Rules on the Finance Department’s website are different from an earlier draft that the Insurance Department released before holding a stakeholder meeting to discuss the proposal in March.

Mark Sektnan, vice president of state government relations for Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, was not available for comment on Friday.

 

Senator Nelson Fundraiser Held On Campus at Libertate Insurance

One of the best things about working out of a non-traditional office is the opportunity to house really cool events.  The recent NAPEO fundraiser for Senator Nelson did not disappoint!

On Friday, April 20th, Libertate was fortunate enough to participate in this fabulous event that raised money for Senator Nelson who has been a long-time supporter of PEO initiatives such as the Small Business Efficiency Act (SBEA).  Additionally, he helped educate his fellow legislators on how to address PEOs and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Thanks to Senator Nelson, NAPEO and to all of those that participated.

All Hands on Deck in Tallahassee

From our friends at the Florida Association of Professional Employer Organizations (“FAPEO”).    It could not be said in a more powerful manner the need to continue advocacy for the PEO industry as we continue to grow and be an even more powerful piece of supporting workers’ compensation for the employees of the State of Florida.  I look forward to seeing you there — This will take place on Feb 19-20 2018.

 

 

From: Robert Skrob
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2018 9:35 AM
Subject: Lies and Insults in the Lawmaking Process

 

You’ve had a string of successful years in the PEO industry. Market share has increased and payrolls grown.

 

This makes our enemies angry.

 

Some people outside of the PEO industry are on the losing side of your growth. When you sign-up a new client that has never worked with a PEO before, that means they are canceling other relationships.

 

Rather than make their offering more competitive, many of those canceled provider complain to lawmakers. They accuse your company of cheating the system, fraud, and failing to pay for injuries. Sure, in the process they do everything they accuse you of, but the reality is lawmakers don’t know that.

 

Lawmakers hear a lot of negative misinformation from people outside the PEO industry.

 

That’s why it’s important for you to tell the other side of the story. To explain to your lawmakers exactly how you help worksite employees get better benefits, help your clients focus on growing their business and how you help government improve compliance and collect more taxes.

 

On February 13-14, we’ll host the Florida PEO CEO Legislative Summit. This event is free, I attached a brochure with more details.  Just RSVP so we can save you a seat.  http://www.fapeo.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/2017-PEO-Legislative-Summit.pdf

Here is the hotel information:

There is block of rooms at the Doubletree Hotel located at 101 S. Adams Street in Tallahassee, FL. FAPEO has arranged a special rate of $169.00 per night for this event. You can make your reservation for the night of February 13th using this link: http://bit.ly/2CGrkwo or by calling 1-877-800-2652 and mention that you are with FAPEO.

This event will give you insights into workers’ compensation reform efforts, insider information on how the reshuffle created by lawmakers moving into the Trump administration will impact the lawmaking process and a time to weigh in on issues impacting the PEO industry.

 

Plus, we’ll use the opportunity of having you in Tallahassee to set up meetings for you with your local lawmakers to educate them on how the decisions they make impact your PEO and the clients and co-employees you serve.

 

Our lawmakers will make decisions on hundreds of issues over the next few weeks. Few lawmakers understand what you do and yet they hear a lot of nonsense from those who want to make your PEO less competitive. While we work hard to educate each lawmaker about the PEO industry, there’s nothing as powerful as hearing directly from a company within his or her community.

 

A briefing from you about your company is a lot more powerful than David Daniel or I giving legislators a presentation about the PEO industry in theory.

 

Make your plans now for February 19-20. I attached a brochure with additional details.  Just send Suzanne or me an email to RSVP.

 

 

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

Florida’s Workers’ Comp Rate Decrease By Industry

FORT MYERS, Fla., Nov. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — What goes up must come down is a fundamental law of gravity and roller coasters.  But it is also starting to become an appropriate depiction for Florida workers’ compensation rates, according to Mark Webb, senior vice president of Lykes Insurance.

“In what is heralded as good news for employers, the Florida Insurance Commissioner approved an amended filing on Nov. 9, 2017 ordering an average decrease of 9.5 percent in workers’ compensation rates effective Jan.1, 2018,” says Webb. “This decrease was slightly more than the 9.3 percent decrease proposed by the NCCI in August.”

Webb notes that this is an average decrease. The actual decrease is allocated among classifications by industry as follows:

Office and Clerical -11.5 percent
Goods and Services -10.6 percent
Manufacturing -10.3 percent
Contracting -7.19 percent
Miscellaneous -8.3 percent

This decrease was filed based on a reduction in claim frequency over the two years prior to 2016.  However, it does not take into consideration the two Supreme Court decisions in 2016 that brought the 14.5 percent increase last December: the Castellanos and Westphal decisions.

These two cases resulted in retroactive changes to claimant attorney compensation and impairment benefits.  Few deny that these court decisions are and will continue bringing upward pressure on the cost of claims, and it seems unlikely that the Florida legislature will take any action on reforms to address this issue, especially in the wake of a rate decrease.  According to Logan McFaddin, Southeast Director for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, “Experience data relating to the impact of Castellanos and Westphal continues to mature and will likely be reflected in future rate filings.”

This sentiment was reflected in the order from the Insurance Commissioner that directed the NCCI in future recommended rate filings to provide a detailed analysis of the impact of Castellanos, including reopening of older claims, changes in reserves and settlement rates, changes in claim frequency and severity, increasing attorney involvement, and fees paid to attorneys.

One issue that needs to be acknowledged is the possibility of a mid-term cancellation and re-write of a workers’ compensation policy to take advantage of the new rates. While it is uncertain how willing insurance carriers will be to embrace this action, this should be evaluated on a case by case basis, because there are some reasons for concern over this strategy.

First, a mid-term change will eliminate any potential dividends that may be earned on a policy. Also, carriers may choose to apply a short rate cancellation penalty if a policy is cancelled and moved to another carrier. The short rate penalty is approximately 10 percent of the unearned premium, which, if applied, would completely negate any advantage of the 9.5 percent rate decrease. Finally, if rates do go back up next year, the policyholder would be moving up the date that the policy would be impacted by the higher rates.

“The bottom line is, as usual, uncertainty prevails,” Webb concludes. “With the uncertainty surrounding the market impact and future rates, it is important to not allow a rate decrease to bring complacency to the significance of safety and claims management in your workers’ compensation program.  We strongly suggest working with your advisors and advocates to help you prepare for whatever the future may hold for workers’ compensation.”

Source: http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/Dealing-with-the-Workers-Compensation-Roller-Coaster-1009678544

Florida Orders Workers’ Comp Rate Decrease of 9.8%

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier has ordered a statewide overall workers’ compensation rate decrease of 9.8 percent, a slightly higher decrease than the 9.6 percent decrease filed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) back in August.

Altmaier’s order disapproving NCCI’s 2018 rate filing was issued by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation on Tuesday, and stated NCCI’s rate request be amended and refiled by Nov. 7, 2017.

Altmaier’s order cited NCCI’s 2 percent allowance for profit and contingencies in its rate filing as the reason for rates being disapproved. The order states that the refiling should contain a profit and contingencies provision no greater than 1.85 percent.

The rate decrease will come as a welcome surprise for many Florida businesses that were expecting additional rate increases after the Florida Supreme Court issued two decisions – Castellanos v. Next Door Company and Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, – in 2016 that sent rates up by double digits this year.

“Using new data, this experience based filing proposes a decrease in rate level based on data from policy years 2014 and 2015 valued as of year-end 2016,” the order states. “While some of the experience used as the basis for this filing occurred before the recent Florida Supreme Court decisions, a portion of the experience period includes claims that occurred after the decisions.”

At a rate hearing in mid-October, NCCI said a decline in claims frequency due, in part, to safer workplaces, enhanced efficiencies in the workplace, increased use of automation, and innovative technologies were partly behind the recommended decrease. NCCI said this trend is not unique to Florida but countrywide, and is expected to continue in the future.

According to OIR’s order, from 2011 to 2015, the cumulative decreases in the indemnity and medical loss ratios were 19.9 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively. The primary reason for the declining loss ratios is a significant reduction in the lost-time claim frequency which declined by 45 percent from 2001 to 2015 with over 8 percent of the decline occurring in 2014 and 2015.

“Even after considering the impact of the Castellanos and Westphal decisions, other factors at work in the marketplace combined to contribute to the indicated decrease, which included reduced assessments, increases in investment income, decline in claim frequency, and lower loss adjustment expenses,” the order states.

However, the order also mandates that NCCI provide detailed analysis of the effects of the Castellanos decision by the Florida Supreme Court in future filings, which accounted for 10.1 percent of the 14.5 percent increase in Florida workers’ compensation rates this year.

“To ensure workers’ compensation rates are not excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory … it is imperative that additional quantitative analysis be conducted to determine the effect the Castellanos decision is having on the Florida workers’ compensation market and the data used to support future rate filings,” the order states. “The analysis may include alternative data sources and should examine changes to the Florida workers’ compensation market that are attributed to or observed as a result of the recent court decision.”

Approval of a revised rate decrease is contingent on the amended filing being submitted with changes as stipulated within the order. If approved by OIR, the revised rate decrease would become effective on Jan. 1, 2018 for new and renewal business.

Read Order: Florida OIR Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rate Decrease

By  of InsuranceJournal.com | November 2, 2017