Regional News

Workers’ comp rates increase for 2015 will be lower than first proposed

Nov 26, 2014

The average increase in workers’ compensation premiums in 2015 will be less than half of the amount initially proposed. Much of the credit goes to improved third-quarter financial numbers for the state workers’ compensation system. The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) also considered public input about the proposed rate as the agency decided on a final increase of 0.8 percent.

The final number is a full percentage point below the 1.8 percent increase proposed in September. The change may seem small, yet the difference between the two numbers means workers and employers will keep about $20 million in their pocketbooks — money they would have paid into the system under the higher proposal. The 2015 increase comes out to an additional half a cent per hour worked.

“We’re doing our best to keep rates steady and predictable, while making sure the workers’ compensation system stays strong,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “Workers can be confident that our system is going to be there, ready to help them if they’re ever hurt on the job.”

Employers and workers around Washington pay into the workers’ compensation system so they’re covered if someone gets hurt while working or becomes ill from a workplace exposure. Last year, L&I covered more than 80,000 work-related injury and illness claims in Washington state.

The 2015 premium increase will help cover wage and disability benefits, as well as medical costs for treatment of injuries and illnesses. It will also allow L&I to continue to build reserves to protect against the unexpected.

As wages climb, the cost of providing workers’ compensation coverage rises. That’s why L&I is using wage inflation as a benchmark for workers’ compensation rates. Washington’s most recent wage inflation number is two percent. Fortunately, recent financial results for the workers’ compensation system show continued improvement, helping allow for an increase lower than inflation.

L&I has several initiatives underway to improve its ability to get injured workers healed and back to work while reducing costs and improving service. Among the areas the agency is focusing on are injury prevention, quality health care for injured workers, support for employers who want to keep injured workers on a job, and improving the workers’ compensation claims process.

The new rates take effect January 1. There’s more information at


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