California Workers’ Comp Premium Up 11% in 2014; Combined Ratio Still Exceeds 100

April 20, 2015

California written premium for calendar year 2014 was roughly $16.5 billion, 11 percent above the total in 2013 and 88 percent above the written premium reported for 2009, according to a report from the California Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) on experience through Dec. 31, 2014.

The projected industry average charged rate per $100 of payroll for 2014 was $2.93. This was roughly 2 percent above the average rate charged for 2013 and 40 percent above the average rate charged for 2009. However, the average rate charged for 2014 remains roughly 53 percent less than the average rate charged for the second six months of 2003, the report shows.

The WCIRB projects total ultimate losses and allocated loss adjustment expense for accident year 2014 to be $12.6 billion. While roughly 4 percent above the projection for accident year 2013 and 27 percent above the projection for accident year 2009, it remains below the highs experienced prior to the 2002 through 2004 reforms, according to the WCIRB.

workers_compThe WCIRB projects a preliminary ultimate accident year combined loss and expense ratio of 103 percent for 2014. Of this, 61 percent is attributable to the indemnity and medical loss ratio and 42 percent is attributable to the loss adjustment and other expense ratio.

Like the projected 2014 loss and the allocated loss adjustment expense (ALAE), this projection is primarily a result of increased premium levels and relatively low claim severity growth in 2014, according to the report.

The preliminary calendar year combined loss and expense ratio for 2014 reported by insurers was 105 percent, slightly below the combined ratios for the last several years, but 2014 is the seventh consecutive year with a combined ratio over 100 percent.

The WCIRB projects indemnity claim frequency for accident year 2014 to be 1.2 percent above the frequency for 2013 and roughly 12 percent above the frequency for 2009. The frequency increases experienced over the last few years are largely attributed to increases in cumulative injury claims, late reported indemnity claims, claims involving injuries to multiple body parts and claims originating in the Los Angeles area, according to the report.

The WCIRB projects the average severity of a 2014 indemnity claim to be roughly $84,000, which is generally consistent with the projected severities for the last several accident years.

The WCIRB currently projects the total statewide ultimate losses on all injuries that occurred on or before Dec. 31, 2014 to be roughly $6.8 billion more than the amounts reported by insurers. These estimates are somewhat below those presented in recent prior summaries as a result of favorable loss development experienced in recent quarters, according to the WCIRB.

Topics California Trends Profit Loss Workers' Compensation Abuse Molestation Pricing Trends

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