Oklahoma Workers’ Comp Report Shows Big Drop in Premium Costs Since 2013

By | August 22, 2017

Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system seems to have benefited from reforms that were initiated in 2013, at least in terms of premium costs for businesses.

By the end of 2016, employers in Oklahoma had seen a 30 percent reduction in workers’ compensation premium costs and the state had recorded a nearly $300 million reduction in workers’ comp premium written, according to the 2016 annual report of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission, which was released in late June 2017.

The OWCC attributes the improvements to the workers’ compensation reforms that began in 2013 with the passage of SB 1062. As a result of those reforms, workers’ comp premium written in Oklahoma dropped from $961 million in 2013 to $673 million in 2016. The bill established the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act (Act) and created the Workers’ Compensation Commission (OWCC) to govern the workers’ comp system in the state. It became fully operational on Feb. 1, 2014.

The OWCC replaced the former Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court, which heard workers’ compensation claims disputes prior to Feb. 1, 2014. Cases filed before that date now go before the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims; cases filed after Feb. 1, 2014, are heard by the commission.

The workers’ comp reform package of 2013 also created the Oklahoma Employee Injury Benefit Act, or Opt Out Act, which allowed qualified employers to opt out of the Oklahoma workers’ comp system by establishing an Employee Benefit Plan (Plan) under the provisions of federal law, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

That act was subsequently struck down by the state supreme court which found it to be “an unconstitutional special law” in a ruling in Vasquez v. Dillards in September 2016.

With certain exceptions, businesses in the state are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage and the OWCC has created an online system for coverage verification based on policy data reported to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).

The compliance division of the OWCC “conducts investigations, issues proposed judgments, and collects penalties for failure to secure compensation under the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act,” the annual report states. Last year, the compliance division conducted 309 investigations and issued 75 proposed judgments.

Combined, the broad categories of slip, fall and trip injuries (26.85 percent), and miscellaneous causes (20.22 percent) represented nearly half of all workplace injury claims, which totaled 7,705 in 2016.

Overall, men reported nearly twice as many injuries from all causes than women, with 4,980 filings for men compared with 2,725 for women.

The 45 – 54 age group filed the highest percentage of claims, 30.1 percent, for a total of 2,319 claims filed.

The commission’s docketing division, which sets hearings and prehearing conferences, and manages administrative dockets, in 2016 scheduled:

  • 7,045 Hearings
  • 23,078 Prehearing Conferences
  • 103 Appeals
  • 36 Compliance Cases
  • 100 Form 19 (Medical Fee Dispute Resolution) Hearings

In terms of premium written, the top five workers’ comp insurers in Oklahoma are:

Company 2016 Premium Written % Market Share
Compsource Mutual Ins. Co. $205,628,805 30.56%
National American Ins. Co. $23,508,022 3.49%
Zurich American Ins. Co. $18,725,013 2.78%
Stonetrust Commercial Ins. Co $16,044,609 2.38%
Travelers Indemnity Co. of America $14,163,952 2.10%

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