From 3/18/09- Workers’ Comp Rates may be headed for a steep increase again: “The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau, an industry-supported advisory group, decided Wednesday to recommend a 24.4 percent July rate increase, roughly the same as earlier indications had suggested. The March 18 move came a day after news reports that the WCIRB’s governing committee was poised to recommend a mid-year rate increase “in the mid-20s” -- reports that led Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to ask the Department of Insurance, and Commissioner Steve Poizner, to reject the recommendation before it was officially tendered.

Jack Hannan, a WCIRB spokesman, confirmed that the group’s governing committee approved a 24.4 percent recommendation by a 7-to-2 vote. Workers’ Comp Executive, an industry trade publication, noted that the vote followed a three-hour meeting, adding that the governing committee was “under intense pressure to hold rates down.” Hannan had predicted Tuesday that the recommended increase would be in the mid-20s, as reported in the San Francisco Business Times on Tuesday.

Now Poizner, who late last year reduced the WCIRB’s recommended 16 percent increase to a 5 percent boost in workers’ comp rates, needs to decide what his recommendation for July rates will be. Workers’ comp insurers in California aren’t legally required to follow the DOI’s recommendations on benchmark “pure premium” rates, but they often do. Actual premiums are affected by a number of factors, including an employer’s industry niche and individual experience rating, reflecting the employer’s number of workers’ comp claims and their size.” As always, we will do our best to partner with employers and carriers to reduce medical and disability costs and reduce the impact of the proposed increases.