Posted on 04 Jun 2009
Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty rolled back a 6.4 percent increase in workers' compensation insurance rates that took effect April 1.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance proposed the decrease after Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill into law last week that caps attorneys' fees in workers compensation insurance lawsuits.
Florida employers will save about $172 million in insurance costs because of the decrease, which takes effect in July. Florida business leaders say the move is critical for employers struggling to save jobs.
Representatives of attorneys' groups say the law creates a disadvantage for injured workers because insurers' legal fees are not capped.
"I am pleased that Gov. Crist and the Florida Legislature recognized the importance of keeping our workers' compensation rates down," McCarty said. "I believe that injured workers still will have appropriate access to the legal system while also still keeping workers' compensation rates affordable for employers."
The legislation was proposed after a Florida Supreme Court ruling in October that found that attorneys are entitled to "reasonable" fees.
The ruling conflicted with a 2003 law that among other things, capped attorneys' fees. Before the law, Florida consistently had some of the highest workers compensation insurance rates in the country.
Since the law, the average statewide rates decreased 60 percent, when taking into account the latest decrease, according to the Office of Insurance Regulation.