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Associated Industries seeks public comment on workers’ comp rates

Associated Industries of Florida moved Tuesday to build public support behind a fix for rising workers’ compensation insurance rates that business interests see as a threat to the state’s economy.

The lobby solicited comments from the public “on how Florida can restore a stable, self-executing, and affordable workers’ compensation system as the Florida Legislature intended,” according to a press release.

Floridians can comment on the situation here.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation on Sept. 27 approved a 14.5 percent increase in workers’ compensation rates, blaming Florida Supreme Court rulings lifting limits on attorney fees in claims litigation and removing a limit on temporary total disability payments.

AIF organized a Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force, chaired by lobby president and chief executive officer Tom Feeney, to look for a legislative remedy to the court rulings.

Feeney cited a study by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services indicating Florida will rank No. 23 among the states in the cost of workers’ compensation insurance.

Florida had the most expensive rates in the country before the Legislature enacted reforms in 2003, Feeney said, and by 2010 had the 40th lowest rates.

“This first rate increase since the workers’ compensation law in Florida was ruled unconstitutional is just the first shoe to drop,” Feeney said.

“It is imperative that we collectively work together to ensure we don’t regress back to prior to the 2003 workers’ compensation reforms, which have done nothing but allow for a healthy and vibrant workers’ compensation system in Florida since their inception.”

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