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September 8, 1999

No workers' comp rate increase proposed for year 2000

TUMWATER - For the sixth consecutive year, the average cost for workers' compensation coverage in Washington will not go up.

"This proposal is good news for employers and their employees," said L&I Director Gary Moore. "Business costs will remain stable, and a strong workers' compensation system will be there to help a worker who does get hurt on the job."

The workers' compensation system in Washington covers about 163,000 employers and 1.6 million workers and is managed by L&I. The system, referred to as the State Fund, pays for lost wages, medical bills and pensions when employees are injured in the workplace.

Several factors are behind the proposal for no general rate increase for 2000:

  • A stable level of claims filed by injured workers.
  • Manageable medical inflation within the workers' compensation system.
  • Continued success in investments for the workers' compensation system, which helps finance benefits and payments for services for injured workers. The system is referred to as the State Fund.

In recent years, L&I has managed to reduce premiums, avoid rate increases and meet legislatively mandated benefit increases for qualified injured workers. Washington also ranks near the lowest of states in costs for workers' compensation, according to a recent performance audit.

Public hearings on the rate proposal are set for:

  • 10 a.m. Nov. 3, Spokane, Conference Room 4, Labor & Industries Office, 901 N. Monroe St., Suite 100.
  • 10 a.m. Nov. 5, Tumwater, Labor & Industries Building auditorium, 7273 Linderson Way S.W.

The proposal for 2000 continues a trend. L&I gave back $200 million to employers in 1999 and also cut general rates by $19 million. The department reduced premiums by $50 million in 1998, had no general increase in 1997 and sliced premiums by $300 million in 1996. There also was no rate increase in 1995.

The proposal for 2000 is an average for all industry groups. Some employers may see decreases and others increases depending on their industry classification and their own claims history.

If approved, the new premiums would take effect Jan. 1, 2000.

Benefits for workers' compensation are financed through premiums paid by employers and workers and investments made by the department. Even though no general rate increase is proposed for 2000, the State Fund will remain financially strong with sufficient reserves to meet anticipated claims costs in the future.

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