Workers’ compensation insurance rates for Oklahoma businesses are expected to drop in 2012, now that the insurance department has approved a filing by the National Council on Compensation Insurance that reflects a 1.7 percent decrease in the loss cost ratio.
Insurance Commissioner John Doak noted that each insurance company incorporates NCCI’s data in its own way, but generally loss cost data is calculated along with other factors such as the policyholder’s prior loss experience to set the premium rate for the policy. Because the NCCI data goes into effect on Jan. 1, Oklahoma businesses could see workers’ compensation premium reductions beginning next year.
The decrease is the result of changes to the state’s workers’ comp system included in Senate Bill 878, which lawmakers passed this year. Among its reforms, the law promotes mediation rather than litigation of workers’ comp disputes, sets a new Workers’ Compensation Medical Fee Schedule intended to reduce the cost of care by 5 percent, and provides for physical and vocational rehabilitation services, according to the insurance department.
Doak said he believes even better results could be achieved through additional reform. His future goals for workers’ comp reform include:
- Further encouraging alternative dispute resolution in place of litigation.
- Continued upgrades to the counselor’s program to assure those presently engaged in a workers’ comp case that their complaints or concerns are being conscientiously addressed.
- Providing support and encouragement for Workers’ Compensation Court Administrator Michael Clingman’s ongoing upgrades to the state workers’ compensation system Web site, making it more interactive and user-friendly and increasing efficiencies by permitting more of the process to be accomplished electronically.
- Exploring equivalent alternative systems designed to efficiently deliver benefits equaling or exceeding the benefits mandated by the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Act while allowing for resolution of disputes outside of the current court system.
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