Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) has announced there will be no general increase in workers’ compensation premiums for 2006.
In late August, the agency proposed a 3.8 percent increase. But L&I Director Gary Weeks said strong investment earnings and a strong economy, the agency’s success at controlling its medical costs and a continued decline in the frequency of workplace-injury claims combined to make that increase unnecessary.
“We know that business owners around the state need to have workers’ compensation rates that are predictable and as stable as possible,” Weeks said. “And we heard from business owners this fall that they wanted rates as low as possible. We listened, and I’m pleased that we were able to lower our earlier proposal to zero.”
While there will be no general rate increase, the premium rate will rise in the Accident Fund, which employers pay into. That fund provides money for pensions and wage-replacement benefits for workers who are injured so seriously they cannot work. The increase in that fund will be offset by decreases in the Medical Aid and Supplemental Pension funds, which both workers and employers contribute to.
From one year to the next, rates change within industries and among employers. Some employers will see their rates go up while others will have rates that go down. Washington is the only state where workers contribute a substantial portion of the premiums, according to L&I. Next year, their share will be 24.1 percent.
L&I manages the Washington State Fund, which provides coverage for about 161,000 employers and 2.3 million workers. Another 830,000 workers are employed by companies that self-insure.
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