Washington Employers May See Big Drop in 2019 Workers’ Comp Rates

The price of workers’ compensation insurance in Washington could drop significantly in 2019.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries this week proposed a 5 percent decrease in the average premium employers pay for the coverage.

If approved, the rate decrease from L&I would be the largest drop since 2007. The lower rate would mean employers would pay an average of about $58 less a year per employee for workers’ comp coverage. Employees would pay about $6 less a year for their share of the cost.

The proposed decrease would mean Washington workers and employers, as a group, pay $136 million less in premiums, according to L&I.

L&I Director Joel Sacks said decreases in work-related injuries, along with L&I initiatives to improve outcomes for injured workers and reduce costs, have made the system healthier and are contributing to the proposed decrease.

“We’ve seen a big drop in injuries at work in our state since 2012. And that’s great news because preventing injuries and making workplaces safe is our number one goal,” Sacks said in a statement.

The agency has established opioid prescription guidelines that have resulted in a 90 percent reduction in the number of workers receiving opioids at six to 12 weeks after injury, and the agency has been providing vocational support and assistance earlier in injury claims, which has helped reduce long-term disability, according to L&I.

In the last five years, these and other improvements have resulted in a more than $2 billion reduction in projected long-term costs for the workers’ compensation system, according to L&I.

The public will have an opportunity to provide input about the rate proposal before a final decision is made in December. The agency will hold three public hearings during which people can learn about and comment on the proposed 2019 rates. The hearings are scheduled for:

People can also comment in writing to Jo Anne Attwood, Joanne.Attwood@Lni.wa.gov. All comments must be received by 5 p.m. Nov. 2.