Double-Digit Cut Proposed for Workers Comp Rates - South Dade News Leader: Community News | South Dade News Leader | Miami Dade County

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Double-Digit Cut Proposed for Workers Comp Rates

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Posted: Friday, August 31, 2018 12:30 am

The National Council on Compensation Insurance, which proposes rates each year for workers’ compensation insurers, made a filing Monday with Florida regulators that calls for an average 13.4 percent rate decrease starting in January.

If approved, the reduction would follow a 9.5 percent decrease that took effect this year.

Bill Herrle, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Florida, called Monday’s proposed rate cut “great news.”

“Lower workers’ comp rates equals a direct reduction in small business owners’ expenses, which means big things for growth,” Herrle said.

The Office of Insurance Regulation said Tuesday it will hold a public hearing on the proposal in October.

In an overview of the filing, the National Council on Compensation Insurance, or NCCI, said the proposed rate decrease is in line with trends in other states.

Workers’ compensation rates have long been a controversial issue in Florida. The debate was rooted, in part, in a 2003 overhaul of the workers' compensation system by then-Gov. Jeb Bush and the Republican-controlled Legislature. Florida businesses at the time faced some of the highest insurance rates in the country. The overhaul, which included strict limits on attorneys' fees and other changes, ultimately led to a 60 percent drop in insurance rates.But groups such as plaintiffs’ attorneys and labor unions argued the 2003 changes unfairly reduced benefits for injured workers and effectively took away legal rights.

The Florida Supreme Court in 2016 issued two key rulings, including in a case known as Castellanos v. Next Door Company where justices said the limits on attorneys’ fees were unconstitutional. The other case, known as Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, sided with an injured firefighter in a dispute over benefits.

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