L&I proposes to up workers comp rate

The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) Wednesday proposed increasing workers’ compensation premiums by 19.4 percent in 2004.

Assuming the economy holds steady, the rate increase will bring revenues in line with the workers’ compensation benefits and expenses next year.

The agency has scheduled seven hearings around the state in late October and early November to give the public a chance to comment on the proposed rate increase.

L&I Director Paul Trause will make the final decision on rates on Nov. 19. The new rates will take effect Jan. 1 and will show up on employers’ first-quarter billing, which will be sent out in March.

“We realize this rate increase is difficult considering the economic situation,” Trause said. “But the insurance industry nationwide has been forced to increase rates to make up for losses in investment earnings, and L&I is no exception. But our rates are still among the lowest in the nation over the last 10 years and have increased at a rate that is far less than inflation.”

If adopted, the proposal will bring in an additional $240 million next year.
This is the second rate increase in the past decade.