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State issues final order for workers’ comp cost increase

in Statewide by

As expected, state insurance regulators have issued a final order jacking up the price of worker’s compensation insurance by nearly 15 percent.

The order was published Thursday.

The decision approves the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) request “for an overall combined statewide average rate increase of 14.5 percent,” the Office of Insurance Regulation said in a press release.

The rate hike, which applies to new and renewal policies, is effective Dec. 1. The increase continues to be bitterly opposed by business groups.

The bulk of the increase is blamed on two Florida Supreme Court decisions, both authored by Justice Barbara Pariente. 

One struck down a provision in state worker’s comp law limiting the time 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.

The U.S. Labor Department, in a new report this week, is calling for “exploration” of federally mandated minimum benefits.

According to NPR, the report says changes in state workers’ comp law have resulted in “the failure of state workers’ compensation systems to provide [injured workers] with adequate benefits.”

In Florida, opponents have criticized the 2003 changes put in place by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature, saying they were draconian and favored employers at the cost of injured employees.

Companies said the new system cut costs, which helps businesses grow jobs. And the changes also were intended to reduce lawsuits over benefits.

For more information about the public hearing and rate filing, visit the “NCCI Public Rate Hearing” webpage.

To view or download a copy of the NCCI rate filing, go to the I-File Forms & Rates Filing Search System and enter File Log #16-12500 into the “Quick Search” function.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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