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Employers workers' compensation rates set to drop again

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia employers are set to see their workers' compensation premiums drop for the ninth year in a row, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Monday.

Tomblin said the state has once again received a reduction in workers' compensation loss cost rates -- a key ingredient used to determine workers' compensation insurance premiums -- from the National Council on Compensation Insurance.

The NCCI is West Virginia's rating and statistical agent that calculates and files the loss cost rates based on an actuarial analysis.

Based on its analysis, the organization filed a proposed 8.8 percent decrease in loss cost rates with the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner.

If approved by the Insurance Commissioner's office, the rate reduction, which would take effect Nov. 1, would result in about $36 million worth of savings and premium reductions for employers over the next year.

"With this reduction, West Virginia employers will have saved $250 million since workers' compensation privatization," said Gov. Tomblin. "These savings demonstrate our willingness to address problems, within the workers' compensation market years ago, was the right decision for West Virginia employers and employees."

West Virginia privatized its workers compensation insurance program at the beginning of 2006. Once the proposed reduction takes effect, state workers' compensation rates will have dropped 48.1 percent from pre-reform levels, the governor's office said.

Karen Price, president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, said the falling rates were the result privatizing the system and the continued commitment to safety on the part of state employers.

"Since West Virginia privatized our workers' compensation system, manufacturers have continued to see their premiums reduced," Price said. "Additionally, reductions in our workers' compensation contributes to our ever improving business climate."

Jan Vineyard, president of the state Oil Marketers and Grocers Association, state Trucking Association, and state Wholesalers Association, said the continued rate reductions will make it easier for businesses to grow going forward.

"Our businesses are able to take workers' compensation savings and invest them back into their businesses," Vineyard said. "This is another example that West Virginia is heading in the right direction."

In addition to the proposed loss cost reduction, the workers' compensation regulatory surcharge charged to businesses also dropped from 5.5 to 5 percent Jan. 1. The surcharge reduction is expected to save businesses about $2.7 million this year.

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