Gov. Justice: West Virginia workers’ comp rates rank among lowest in the country

CHARLESTON, WV — Gov. Jim Justice announced today that West Virginia has the fourth average lowest workers’ compensation insurance rate in the country, according to the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking.

Issued once every two years since 1986, the report compares workers comp rates across all 50 states.

“I ran for Governor because I knew West Virginia was too good to be ranked 50th,” said Gov. Justice. “We used to rank among the states with the highest rates for workers’ compensation insurance. Now the rates in our state rank as the fourth lowest in the nation. We can be proud of our progress.”

The national premium median rate is $1.70 per $100 of payroll. West Virginia’s median rate index is 1.01. Ohio’s index rate is 1.40; Kentucky is 1.51 and Pennsylvania is 1.85.

The lowest index rate is in North Dakota at 0.82. The highest are in New York, at 3.08 and California at 2.87.

“No doubt privatization of workers’ compensation has paid dividends along with significant job growth opportunities and a growing business-friendly image,” said State Insurance Commissioner Allan McVey.

West Virginia has moved from being the sole monopolistic carrier to a competitive market with 275 carriers offering workers’ compensation insurance to the state’s employers.

In addition to lower premium rates, other factors have contributed to reducing costs in the state’s workers’ comp program. The Old Fund — legacy claims existing before privatization — is now fully funded. As a result, the Old Fund 9 percent deficit surcharge will end as of Jan. 1, 2019.

The number of claims and claim protests, and the staff required to handle the load have also gradually diminished over the years. The total number of full-time employees handling the workers’ comp program appeals has dropped from approximately 90 to 51 today.

The Workers Compensation Office of Judges has fallen from over 26,000 protests to less than 3000 in 2018.

“West Virginia has reduced workers’ comp litigation staff by nearly 90 percent, which reduces costs for the Department of Revenue,” said State Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy. “The reductions in premiums employers pay for workers’ comp insurance represents a cumulative decrease of 75.8 percent, which represents a $398 million aggregate premium reduction. The funds that would have gone to pay insurance premiums can be redirected to investing in workplace safety and training or in expanding West Virginia’s economy.”

The complete Oregon Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking Calendar Year 2018 is available online.

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