Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services announced that on average, workers’ compensation rates for 2011 will remain flat. The pure premium rate will decrease 1.8 percent in 2011, but the department is proposing a 1.8 percentage point increase in the workers’ compensation premium assessment to fund administration of the system and partially offset the economic downturn on DCBS revenue.
The pure premium rate is the base rate employers pay their insurance company for workers’ compensation coverage. DCBS sets the pure premium rate based on a recommendation from the National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. (NCCI).
DCBS said workplace injury and illness rates in Oregon have declined 24 percent since 2004, and more than 58 percent since the late 1980s, which has helped to keep premium rates low.
The premium assessment pays for the administration of workers’ compensation and workplace safety programs. The department has decreased the assessment four times since 2002 as the economy grew. But DCBS is proposing to increase the assessment from its current 4.6 percent to 6.4 percent in 2011 because with payroll down, revenue has declined significantly. “The department has taken a variety of actions to address the revenue decline, including reducing expenditures, implementing pay freezes and furloughs, and cutting staff department-wide,” DCBS said in a statement.
“We’re very sensitive to employer costs, particularly in these economic times,” said Cory Streisinger, DCBS director. “But we also want to preserve the long-term value that our workers’ compensation system delivers. Though an assessment increase is never easy, we’ve worked to hold it down to a level that’s offset this year by this year’s decline in pure premium — so employer costs won’t go up.”
The pure premium rate decrease and Workers’ Benefit Fund assessment will go into effect Jan. 1, 2011. DCBS will hold a hearing to invite public comment on its proposal at 2 p.m. on Sept. 21 in the Labor and Industries Building. Fore more information on the hearing, visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov.
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