L&I Proposes 1.8 Percent Workers’ Comp Rate Hike for 2015

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Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries recently announced a proposed 1.8 percent increase in workers’ compensation insurance rates for 2015.

Even though the department’s figures indicate that next year’s projected break-even rate would be -2.1 percent, L&I officials have decided to propose a 1.8 percent increase. They say the rate increase helps rebuild the contingency reserves, which were drawn down during the recession, and takes into account wage inflation, a factor automatically built into industrial insurance premiums in other states but not necessarily here in Washington.

L&I increased premium rates 2.7 percent for 2014 – 3.7 percent over the break-even rate. In 2012 and 2013, L&I held rates steady at the 2011 level.

L&I’s coverage of the recent rate announcement can be found here.

The proposed rate for agriculture is an average 6 percent increase, while rates for food processing and manufacturing range are an average 4 percent increase. The proposed rates for each risk classification can be found here.

Washington Farm Bureau recognizes the need to rebuild the contingency reserves, but we feel an average 1.8 percent increase this year is too much – especially when making no change to the rates is the same as having 2.1 percent more money than what is necessary for 2015. It is unclear whether the Department of Labor & Industries has considered the overall business climate in assessing increases to build contingency reserves.

We encourage you to attend a public hearing and let the department know what their rate proposal would mean for your farm operation.

Public hearings on the proposed rates will be held in:

  • Bellingham, Oct. 22, 9 a.m., Whatcom Community College.
  • Spokane, Oct. 23, 9 a.m., CenterPlace Event Center.
  • Richland, Oct. 24, 9 a.m., Richland Community Center.
  • Tumwater, Oct. 27, 9 a.m., L&I Building.
  • Tukwila, Oct. 28, 9 a.m., L&I Office, Gateway Corporate Center.
  • Vancouver, Oct. 30, 9 a.m., Northwest Regional Training Center.

People can comment at the public hearings or in writing to Jo Anne Attwood, Administrative Regulations Analyst, PO Box 41448, Olympia, WA 98504-4148 or by email to joanne.attwood@Lni.wa.gov. All comments must be received by 5 p.m., Nov. 3, 2014.

More information regarding the rates proposal is available at www.Rates.Lni.wa.gov. Final rates will be adopted by Dec. 1 and go into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

As always, your government relations staff is working with legislators to enact long-term reforms to Washington’s industrial insurance system. Our Retro/Safety staff continues to provide assistance with individual claims, employment issues, and safety concerns. For more information, contact WFB’s government relations or Retro/Safety teams.