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December 2, 1998

Department approves $19 million rate cut for 1999
Checks for $150 million dividend will be sent beginning in January

OLYMPIA - Employers and their workers in Washington will pay $19 million less for workers' compensation coverage in 1999 under a proposal adopted today.

And the first checks for a $150 million dividend that 130,000 employers will share will begin being sent during the last week of January 1999.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries will lower general premium rates by 2.3 percent for 1999, said Director Gary Moore. The reduction means a $19 million savings for employers and their workers. The rate cut takes effect Jan. 1, 1999.

The proposed 2.3 percent rate reduction for 1999 is an average for all industry groups. Some employers may see larger decreases and others increases depending on their industry classification and accident history.

The rate cut continues a trend. L&I reduced premiums by $50 million in 1998, had no general increase in 1997 and sliced premiums by $300 million in 1996. There also was no rate increase in 1995.

Employers should receive dividend checks during the first quarter of 1999. The amounts will vary, depending on the Accident Fund portion of the premiums employers paid during fiscal year 1998 - July 1, 1997 through June 30, 1998. Employers with dividends of less than $10 will receive a credit to their account instead of a check. Businesses that owe premium will have the dividend applied to the balance.

The dividend will come from the Accident Fund, which is the largest of several funds that make up the overall State Fund. The Accident Fund pays benefits for injured workers, such as time-loss and disability awards. Only employers pay into the Accident Fund.

Labor & Industries manages the workers' compensation system in Washington, and it is often referred to as the State Fund. It covers almost 1.6 million employees. The system pays for lost wages, medical bills, disability benefits and pensions when workers are hurt or become ill on the job.

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