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Nov. 17, 2005

No general increase in 2006 workers’ compensation rates

TUMWATER — The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) today announced there will be no general increase in workers’ compensation premiums for 2006.

In late August, the agency proposed a 3.8 percent increase. But today, L&I Director Gary Weeks said strong investment earnings and a strong economy, the agency’s success at controlling its medical costs and a continued decline in the frequency of workplace-injury claims combined to make that increase unnecessary.

“We know that business owners around the state need to have workers’ compensation rates that are predictable and as stable as possible,” Weeks said. “And we heard from business owners this fall that they wanted rates as low as possible. We listened, and I’m pleased that we were able to lower our earlier proposal to zero.”

While there will be no general rate increase, the premium rate will rise in the Accident Fund, which only employers pay into. That fund provides money for pensions and wage-replacement benefits for workers who are injured so seriously they cannot work. The increase in that fund will be offset by decreases in the Medical Aid and Supplemental Pension funds, which both workers and employers contribute to.

From one year to the next, rates change within industries and among employers. Some employers will see their rates go up while others will have rates that go down. Washington is the only state where workers contribute a substantial portion of the premiums. Next year, their share will be 24.1 percent.

L&I manages the Washington State Fund, which provides coverage for about 161,000 employers and 2.3 million workers. Another 830,000 workers are employed by companies that self-insure.

Radio broadcast version

The Department of Labor & Industries said today there will be no general increase in workers’ compensation premiums in 2006. In August, the agency proposed a 3.8 percent increase. But today it said good investment returns, a strong economy, the agency’s success at controlling its medical costs and a continued decline in the frequency of workplace-injury claims combined to make an increase unnecessary.

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For media information: Robert T. Nelson, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6043 or nelq235@LNI.wa.gov, or visit the L&I News and Media Center at www.lni.wa.gov/News.

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