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Florida Chamber warns of increasing worker’s comp rates

A request to increase worker’s compensation insurance rates has now gone up to nearly 20 percent, stoking ire from the state’s business lobby.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), an umbrella organization representing insurers, filed the request Friday with state insurance regulators. It blames recent state Supreme Court rulings for the hike.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is warning such a rate hike would make Florida the costliest state for employers to buy workers’ comp insurance, mandated by states to pay workers who get hurt on the job.

The NCCI “is proposing an effective date of Oct. 1 for new and renewal workers’ compensation policies and that the 19.6 percent rate increase apply to all (existing) workers’ compensation policies” on a pro-rata basis, according to a press release from the Office of Insurance Regulation.

The bulk of the increase is blamed on two decisions of the Florida Supreme Court.

One struck down a provision in state worker’s comp law limiting the time injured workers can get temporary disability benefits, saying such payments should last five years, not two.

Another invalidated the law’s cap on legal fees as unconstitutional, saying it was a violation of due process. Justice Barbara Pariente authored both decisions.

“Small businesses create two of every three jobs in Florida, and a workers’ comp rate increase is significant as this could force these businesses to choose between paying higher workers’ comp rates and hiring new employees,” said Mark Wilson, the chamber’s president and CEO, in a statement.

“A 19.6 percent rate increase will cause uncertainty among job creators and may even force a decline in Florida’s job growth,” he added.

Regulators have scheduled a public rate hearing on the proposal for 9 a.m. Aug. 16, in the Jim King Committee Room, 401 Senate Office Building, in the state Capitol.

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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