In July of 2022, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and West Virginia (WV) Governor Jim Justice announced that workers’ compensation rates for employers in the Mountain State would decrease for the 18th year in a row on November 1, 2022. These WV workers’ compensation rate changes reflect the work and advocacy of many committed individuals and groups in WV that have taken some of the steps necessary to rein in costs and create a more manageable system for covering employee injuries while addressing abuse and other issues that bogged the system down for many years.
Factors in WV Workers’ Compensation Rate Changes
The July 2022 press release from the Office of the Governor notes that, since the privatization of workers’ compensation in WV in 2006, employers have seen cumulative WV workers’ compensation rate decreases of more than 81 percent, resulting in $446 million in savings. The latest loss cost decrease of 7.2 percent is expected to result in a collective savings of $14 million in workers’ compensation premiums for WV employers.
A Clarksburg workers’ compensation defense lawyer, James “Mac” Heslep, Of Counsel at Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC, has seen firsthand how legislation and other efforts have helped WV employers manage workers’ compensation claims, litigation, and expenses.
Mac and the Jenkins Fenstermaker workers’ compensation defense team have also helped employers in North Central WV, and across the state, identify and implement additional strategies to decrease costs by advocating for reform, providing legal counsel on employer policies and procedures, and rigorously defending employers against workers’ compensation claims.
A Review of WV Workers’ Compensation Rate Decreases
In 2018, WV Insurance Commissioner Allan McVey cited privatization of workers’ compensation insurance, general job growth, and a more business-friendly environment as the primary causes for WV workers’ compensation rate decreases. The same year, Governor Justice noted that efforts to reform workers’ compensation in WV had successfully decreased the number of claims and protests filed. This decreased related claims and litigation costs and allowed the state to manage claims and litigation with fewer staff.
In 2021, David Benedict of NCCI stated that decreases in loss costs were driven by reductions in lost-time claims since 2010. He said the changes reflected workers’ compensation market improvements, particularly in the assigned risk market. These impacts have continued, and NCCI proposed a rate decrease of 9.2 percent for assigned risk employers in WV on November 1, 2022.
Released every two years, the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking reviews workers’ compensation premiums in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. In 2000, WV had the 13th highest workers’ compensation premium rate on the list, with an average rate of $2.72 per $100 in employer payroll expenses. In the 2020 report, released in January 2021, WV had one of the best workers’ compensation rates in the country, ranking 48 out of 51, with a rate of $0.79.
Factors Impacting WV Workers’ Compensation Rate Changes
The cost of workers’ compensation premiums for employers is determined by the insurance industry based on a number of factors, with large and high-risk industry employers facing a significant cost burden. On a statewide basis, state laws and the types of industries present are primary factors.
On an individual employer basis, workers’ compensation premiums are impacted mostly by the following conditions:
- Total annual payroll;
- Type and risk of industry and work;
- The state where employees work; and
- The company’s workers’ compensation claim and expense history.
Fortunately, in addition to reaping the benefits of WV workers’ compensation rate changes across the state, employers can reduce their WV workers’ compensation premiums by taking action internally to better mitigate and defend against claims and litigation.
Discuss Your Workers’ Compensation Premiums with a Clarksburg Workers’ Compensation Defense Lawyer
In North Central WV, Mac and the Jenkins Fenstermaker team help employers evaluate policies and implement reforms. When claims are filed, Clarksburg workers’ compensation defense lawyer Mac Heslep provides comprehensive claims and litigation defense.
In general, WV employers can better manage workers’ compensation costs by taking the following steps:
- Prioritize safety, including training programs, investing in safety equipment and measures, and identifying and resolving potential hazards;
- Identify and defend frivolous or abusive claims;
- Establish a return-to-work program that allows employees to get back to work sooner through modified job duties or retraining; and
- Consider making payments on workers’ compensation premiums annually when the insurer offers a rate deduction for doing so.
Your Resource for Questions about WV Workers’ Compensation Rate Changes and More
It has been a significant challenge, but WV has successfully implemented legislation and systems that benefit the employers in the state by driving WV workers’ compensation rate decreases. The fight continues, and Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC is proud to play a role in the process at the state level and by helping individual employers.
Clarksburg workers’ compensation defense lawyer James “Mac” Heslep has helped employers in WV manage workers’ compensation and federal black lung matters for nearly 20 years. To discuss how WV workers’ compensation rate changes impact your company or how you can better mitigate and manage claims and litigation, contact Mac at the Clarksburg office of Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC by calling (304) 521-6120 or completing this online contact form.