A request to increase worker’s compensation insurance rates has now gone up to nearly 20 percent, stoking ire from the state’s business lobby.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), an umbrella organization representing insurers, filed the request Friday with state insurance regulators. It blames recent state Supreme Court rulings for the hike.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce is warning that such a rate hike would make Florida the costliest state for employers to buy workers’ comp insurance, mandated by states to pay workers who get hurt on the job.
The NCCI “is proposing an effective date of Oct. 1 for new and renewal workers’ compensation policies and that the 19.6 percent rate increase apply to all (existing) workers’ compensation policies” on a pro-rata basis, according to a press release from the Office of Insurance Regulation.
The bulk of the increase is blamed on two decisions of the Florida Supreme Court.
One struck down a provision in state worker’s comp law limiting the time that injured workers can get temporary disability benefits, saying such payments should last five years, not two.
Another invalidated the law’s cap on legal fees as unconstitutional, saying it was a violation of due process. Justice Barbara Pariente authored both decisions.
“Small businesses create two of every three jobs in Florida, and a workers’ comp rate increase as significant as this could force these businesses to choose between paying higher workers’ comp rates and hiring new employees,” said Mark Wilson, the chamber’s president and CEO, in a statement.
“A 19.6 percent rate increase will cause uncertainty among job creators and may even force a decline in Florida’s job growth,” he added.
Regulators have scheduled a public rate hearing on the proposal for 9 a.m. on Aug. 16, in the Jim King Committee Room, 401 Senate Office Building, in the state Capitol.