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Workers' compensation rates to drop 7.5%

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier on Thursday ordered an average 7.5 percent reduction in workers’ compensation insurance rates effective Jan. 1.

Altmaier issued an order directing the National Council on Compensation Insurance to submit a revised rate proposal to his office with a 7.5 percent cut.

Altmaier asked that the organization known as NCCI make the filing by Nov. 4.

In his order, Altmaier also directed NCCI to include in future rate filings a “detailed explanatory memo and quantitative analysis regarding the effect the recent Supreme Court decision of Castellanos is having on the Florida workers’ compensation market and the data used to support future rate filings.”

Altmaier was referring to a 2016 Florida Supreme Court ruling in the case of Castellanos v. Next Door Company in which justices rejected restrictive caps on fees charged by attorneys who represent injured workers.

Business groups have long argued that higher attorney fees will increase costs in the workers’ compensation system and drive up rates.

The average 7.5 percent reduction in Thursday’s order is greater than a 5.4 percent reduction that NCCI recommended this summer.

NCCI makes rate filings each year for the workers’ compensation industry.

In rejecting the NCCI proposal, Altmaier said NCCI projections that there would be a 2.5 percent reduction in indemnity claims -- claims for such things as lost wages -- and a 2 percent reduction in future medical claims “appear to be unreasonable.”

“Oh my,” Bill Herrle, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Florida, said when told of the rate decrease. “Rates going down is always going to be welcome news to Florida employers.”

Herrle praised Altmaier for directing NCCI to continue collecting data on the impact of the Castellanos decision.

“We hope that the commissioner continues to keep a close eye on attorneys’ fees within the system,” he said.