Wisconsin Workers Comp Premiums Plummet

Wisconsin businesses see largest drop in workers comp rates since 1995

June 30, 2017

Wisconsin employers will see the second largest decrease in premium rates for worker’s compensation in 22 years. This week, the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance approved an overall 8.46 percent rate decrease for worker’s compensation premiums for business this year following a 3.19 percent decline last year. According to the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) this decrease represents a savings of nearly $170 million for employers.

“This is the second consecutive year worker’s compensation rates have declined in Wisconsin, reaffirming our commitment that Wisconsin is open for business,” said Gov. Scott Walker. In a press release, DWD Secretary Ray Allen credited workplace safety efforts, as well as efforts to bring injured workers back to work as soon as possible. 

WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding commended the work of Wisconsin’s health care providers in getting injured workers back on the job more quickly than nearly every other state in the nation, helping to lower the cost of worker’s compensation claims in Wisconsin by reducing an injured worker’s time on disability. 

“This astounding premium rate decrease is great news for Wisconsin employers,” said Borgerding. “It’s abundantly clear that injured workers in Wisconsin are getting some of the best care in the country.” 

Indeed Wisconsin’s health care providers are an important part of the worker’s compensation program. The health care component of Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation program has a strong record of performance, with fast return-to-work rates, low utilization of health care services, high levels of patient satisfaction and overall cost per claim that is among the lowest nationwide, all of which helps lead to positive premium trends for employers and better care for those injured on the job in Wisconsin. 

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s employers are making progress on reducing nonfatal workplace injuries, and the DWD continues to focus on safety with the hire of a new safety and risk manager just last year (see previous Valued Voice article). The most recent data from the State Lab of Hygiene on workplace safety shows Wisconsin’s private sector rate of injury at 3.6 per 100 full time equivalent (FTE) workers is still about 20 percent higher than the national rate of 3.0 per 100 FTE. However, both nationally and at the state level, the rate has fallen steadily since 2003. 

Borgerding says while health care providers do not control the number of injured workers coming through their doors, health care workers are helping craft programs to improve health and safety. 

“The commitment of Wisconsin hospitals and health systems to our state’s workforce goes beyond providing exceptional care to those injured on the job and helping them return to work and productivity,” Borgerding said. “Our members are working with local employers across the state to design safety and health management programs and partnering to improve overall employee health. Despite the data, despite these partnerships, some in Madison continue pushing controversial worker’s compensation policies that increasingly appear to be solutions looking for a problem.”

Each year, the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB) establishes premium rates for the state’s worker’s compensation insurance carriers. These rates are developed into premiums, based on claims experience and adjustments for industry sectors. According to DWD, over the last 10 years, premium rates for Wisconsin have remained stable, with a 10-year average annual net premium change of -.37 percent. 

This story originally appeared in the June 30, 2017 edition of WHA Newsletter