Florida will see a 7.8 percent increase in Workers Compensation rates next year. State Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said the new rate is technically a denial of a slightly higher 8.3 percent increase sought by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, which represents insurers.
If the council accepts his findings, McCarty said Florida's rates still will be 61.9 percent lower than they were seven years ago when the Legislature passed a law designed to reduce premiums. "The rate increase that has been justified would still give Florida the lowest rates in the Southeast and likely keep us in the top 10 states nationally for most affordable workers compensation insurance,'' McCarty said in a statement. "The NCCI's prior seven annual filings represent the largest consecutive cumulative decrease in rates in our state's history.''
Before the law was changed in 2003, Florida regularly had the highest or second highest premiums in the nation.
McCarty approved the increase after receiving testimony from industry experts and the state's insurance consumer advocate at a hearing Oct. 5. He said the lower-than-requested amount resulted from using a different medical trend factor than the council had proposed.
It'll add just pennies to the annual cost of insuring each worker, said Tamela Perdue, general counsel for Associated Industries of Florida, a business trade organization.
"Nobody likes for their costs to go up,'' Perdue said, but she added, ``This is really not as drastic as what some other costs have been.''
By comparison, she said, some employers have been hit with double-digit increases for health insurance. Perdue praised McCarty for ``keeping the employers' interests in the forefront.''
The rate increase could have been about a percentage point lower if Gov. Charlie Crist hadn't vetoed a bill the Legislature passed earlier this year, Perdue said.
It would have limited how much doctors could charge for repackaged drugs the provide to injured state workers. Crist wrote that the measure was rushed through without thorough vetting.