For Immediate Release - November 01, 2012

Study Finds Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Rates Among Lowest in Nation

Study Finds Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Rates Among Lowest in Nation

Costs to Employers Well Below Median, Oregon Survey Reports under Patrick-Murray Administration Rates Have Decreased More than 19 Percent

BOSTON – Massachusetts employers continue to pay some of the lowest workers' compensation premium rates in the country, according to the biennial survey conducted by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

Massachusetts ranks fifth-lowest of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., the study reports, with combined rates of $1.54 per $100 in payroll. This contrasts with Montana, the highest-ranked state, at $3.33 per $100 in payroll, and Connecticut, the highest-ranked New England state, at $2.55 per $100 in payroll. Massachusetts is 75 percent of the median of all states.

The Oregon report, which is published every two years, compares workers’ compensation insurance premium rates across all states, using Oregon’s industry mix as the base. The current study, released in October, reviewed a variety of measures from calendar year 2010 and found that Massachusetts' total workers’ compensation costs decreased 6 percent after three years of increases. The state also had the largest decrease in total costs per claim of all states examined.

"That Massachusetts can continue to point to above-average success in managing its workers' compensation rates is particularly good news in this economy," said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "This is further proof of our state’s commitment to address the costs of doing business in an appropriate and competitive manner."

“Our entire team is energized that our successful stewardship of the workers’ compensation system has been recognized by the Oregon Survey,” said Philip L. Hillman, Director of the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents. “Our success can be directly attributed to Governor Patrick’s leadership and our partnership with highly engaged stakeholders from business, labor and the insurance industry.”

Under the Patrick-Murray Administration, the Division of Insurance has lowered average workers' compensation rates by 19.7 percent since 2007. In addition, the state has made several other changes to the structure of workers' compensation premiums – including reducing the maximum penalty for losses from 49 percent to 25 percent, and lowering charges required to be paid by small employers – to further improve the environment for businesses. Workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage for, among other things, lost wages and medical care for workers injured on the job. Massachusetts businesses are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance. The workers’ compensation system was overhauled in 1991, emphasizing efficient claims management, workplace safety and return-to-work programs.

"The Oregon study, which is the best benchmark known in the industry, confirms this Administration’s commitment to continued stability in workers' compensation rates in Massachusetts,” said Joseph G. Murphy, the Commissioner of Insurance. “We are pleased with the progress we have made to ensure timely benefits to workers while minimizing the cost of workers' compensation insurance for our business community."

The change in Massachusetts workers' compensation rates can be attributed to two major factors. Throughout the country, fewer employees are engaged in hazardous occupations, while both workers and companies have become more aware of safety in the workplace and more attuned to the importance of early return to duty, both trends that have been steeper in Massachusetts than in other states. And the 1991 reforms altered both workers' compensation benefit structures and dispute resolution practices, which have made the system less litigious and more efficient.

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services have been examining workers' compensation rates every other year since 1986. The study takes into account differences in industry composition when assessing the rates for each state; individual employers’ costs are calculated according to their experience ratings, premium discounts and other factors.

The Division of Insurance is an agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.  Follow the Division at www.mass.gov/doi or its Twitter feed, @MassDOI.  The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation provides a range of consumer information at www.mass.gov/consumer, through its Consumer Connections blog, on Facebook and on Twitter @Mass_Consumer.

 

###