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WA Workers Comp Rates Jump 12%

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) today announced a final decision to increase workers' compensation premium rates by an average 12 percent or 6.5 cents per hour for 2011. The new rates already took effect on Jan. 1 on an emergency basis. Individual employers could see their rates go up or down, depending on their recent claims history and any changes in the frequency and cost of claims in their industry.

"I know that many businesses are running on thin margins," said L&I Director Judy Schurke. "That is why the Governor and I decided to use $117 million from the trust fund reserves to offset the costs of claims and keep the rate increase as low as possible."

The 12 percent increase will bring in an additional $196 million and when combined with $117 million from the reserve funds will provide the additional $290 million needed to cover workers' comp costs in 2011. Schurke noted that steps by L&I to hold down medical and pharmaceutical costs, streamline claims management, and fight fraud saved more than $200 million last year.

Washington is one of only four states with a government monopoly that forbids private competition for industrial insurance coverage. Critics said that lack of competition is causing Washington’s rates to rise faster and higher than surrounding states like Oregon (down 1.8%) and Idaho (up 3.7%) in 2011. Washington voters rejected Initiative-1082 last November that would have privatized workers compensation and allowed insurance companies to compete in Washington State like it is in 46 other states.

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Source: Washington Department of Labor & Industry – News Release, Jan 28, 2011


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