California's insurance commissioner, Steve Poizner, rejected a filing that could have sparked a 28 percent price hike in workers' compensation insurance.
It was the third consecutive time that Poizner said no to a equest to raise rates from the Workers Compensation Insurance Board - a panel backed by the insurance industry.
“I will not approve a rate that passes avoidable costs through to California employers,” Poizner said.
The WCIRB had requested a hike in the state's "pure premium rate," which is used as a benchmark for insurers to set their own rates. Since 2008, the average premium has risen 3 percent. But he added that before the pure premium rate rises again, the insurers should do more to control their costs and prove that they are operating efficiently.
"Our nation and state are in the midst of a recession and unemployment rates are sky high," he said. "This is the absolutely wrong time for workers’ compensation rates to increase. Even in a better economy, I still wouldn’t budge on a rate increase without the industry first implementing the efficiencies we have recommended.”
The decision was one of Poizner's last major acts as insurance commissioner, following an unsuccessful run to be the Republican nominee for governor earlier this year.