Workers comp rates set to jump in February

Pennsylvania’s top insurance official has OKed one of the largest hikes in 25 years in workers compensation premiums paid by Pennsylvania employers.

The increase of 6.06 percent is set to take effect on Feb. 1.

In addition to its size, the increase is unusual because it is one of few made outside the typical annual rate changes in April. It addresses what some expect to be sharply higher workers comp costs following a state Supreme Court ruling in June.

The ruling barred the use of so-called impairment rating evaluations, or IREs. The evaluations allowed companies to cap costs for paying out wages lost due to injury, typically in cases where workers could not return to work.

A group representing trial lawyers opposed the increase, arguing that other measures remain in place to control workers comp costs.

Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman, however, approved the hike in a decision Dec. 27, according to the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau, a Philadelphia-based independent nonprofit that helps set workers’ comp premiums in the commonwealth.

The bureau asked for the hike in August and wanted it to take effect in November. But the insurance department had 180 days to decide.

The bureau has asked for a smaller rate hike in April, of 0.7 percent. April is typically the time when annual workers comp rate changes are sought.

The delay in approving the first hike will have no effect on the amount requested in the second, John Pedrick, vice president of actuarial services for the bureau, wrote in an email.

Joel Berg
Joel Berg is editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Born in Philadelphia, raised in Northern Virginia and now living in York, he's a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and the University of Maryland. Have a question or story idea? Email him at jberg@cpbj.com.

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