Florida OIR Conducts Workers’ Comp Rate Hearing
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) conducted a public hearing on October 18, 2017, to discuss the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s (NCCI) proposed overall statewide average workers’ compensation premium decrease of 9.6 percent. Video of the public hearing, an OIR presentation, media advisory, and statement, and an NCCI press statement can all be found on the NCCI Public Rate Hearing section of the Florida OIR website.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that the costs in Florida for mandatory coverage are the 33rd highest in the nation. According to the Sentinel, preliminary data from the NCCI showed that Florida businesses paid almost $3.8 billion in workers' compensation premiums in 2016, up from about $2.8 billion in 2012.
Jeff Eddinger, a senior division executive for the NCCI, said the proposal was "one of the largest decreases in the last 10 years." Eddinger also said workers’ compensation rates in Florida will have decreased by 60 percent since 2003 if the proposed filing is approved.
Stephen Alexander, an actuary with the advocacy group Florida Workers’ Advocates, testified that the rates should be reduced by 15.4 percent instead. Alexander told WFSU-TV that a projected loss would be OK "because insurance companies will make up for the shortfall through investment returns."
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In a statement, the NCCI said the proposed reduction "represents a continued improvement in claim frequency," citing a more than an 8 percent decrease in Florida claims over the last two years, referring to it as "the primary driver of the decrease filed with the OIR." Last year, the NCCI responded to a pair of major Florida Supreme Court rulings with a rate increase request of 19.6 percent.
The OIR ultimately denied the request, saying it wasn’t justified and instead ordering NCCI to amend and refile its rate increase for 14.5 percent, the rate approved in October for all policies effective as of December 1, 2016. OIR said the individual rate impacts would include:
- A 10.1 percent statewide average rate increase for the April 28 Florida Supreme Court decision in the case of Castellanos v. Next Door Company;
- A 2.2 percent statewide average rate increase for the June 9 Florida Supreme Court decision in the case of Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg;
- A 1.8 percent statewide average rate increase related to updates within the Florida Workers’ Compensation HCPR Manual per Senate Bill 1402. The manual became effective on July 1, 2016.
In Castellanos v. Next Door Company, the Florida Supreme Court concluded that the mandatory fee schedule in Florida Statute § 440.34 (passed in 2009 as part of state reforms) created "an irrebuttable presumption that precludes any consideration of whether the fee award is reasonable to compensate the attorney" and was unconstitutional under both the Florida and United States Constitutions as a violation of due process. In Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, the Court concluded that Florida Statute § 440.15(2)(a), the portion of the worker's compensation statute which cuts off disability benefits after 104 weeks to a worker who is totally disabled and incapable of working but who has not yet reached maximum medical improvement, was "unconstitutional under article I, section 21, of the Florida Constitution, as a denial of the right of access to courts, because it deprives an injured worker of disability benefits under these circumstances for an indefinite amount of time — thereby creating a system of redress that no longer functions as a reasonable alternative to tort litigation."
If you or your loved one sustained serious injuries on the job in the greater Miami-Dade County area, it is in your best interest to contact The Hoffman Firm as soon as possible. Evan A. Hoffman is an experienced workers' compensation lawyer in Miami who can fight to help you obtain all of the workers' compensation benefits you need and deserve.
Evan A. Hoffman
Mr. Hoffman’s philosophy is "our knowledge and experience is your best defense." He has been a featured author on criminal law issues such as driving under the influence, domestic violence and illegal searches.Read More