Massachusetts regulators and insurers have agreed that workers’ compensation rates will not rise.
Last month, the industry filed for a 6.6 percent average increase effective Sept. 1 but insurers have agreed to hold rates at current levels at least until September 2012. The increase would have cost employers about $65 million.
“Our goal at the Division of Insurance is to make sure that these rates are fair, they protect workers, and that they do not overly burden employers,” said Insurance Commissioner Joseph Murphy. “This agreement does all of those things.”
Paul Meagher, president of the Workers’ Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau of Massachusetts, which files rates for insurers, said the industry believes the deal is in the best interest of employers. But he cautioned that insurers’ costs are rising.
“It is important to note, however, that even though the frequency of workplace injuries has continued to decline in Massachusetts, the cost of claims has continued to rise, driven mainly by the relentless increase in medical and pharmaceutical costs,” said Meagher. “If this trend continues, as forecasted, it will contribute to a need for higher workers’ compensation rates in the future.”
The state attorney general’s office also signed off on the rate freeze.
Last year, an agreement with WCRIB cut overall rates 2.4 percent, instead of increasing them 4.5 percent as insurers originally requested. That agreement also saved employers approximately $65 million in premiums., according to state officials.
Traditionally, WCRIB files rates proposals every two years, but last year’s agreement included a required filing in the next year.