Workers Compensation insurance costs could ease a little more next year. The National Council on Compensation Insurance recommends rates drop almost two percent in Missouri. But the state insurance department recommends cuts that are four times that–more than eight percent.

State Insurance Director John Huff says this is the fourth year for decreases. “Some of those factors that are driving that (are) reductions in claim expense costs and some indemnity in medical trends that would contribute to lower costs. It’s a very competitive workers compensation market in Missouri,” he says. More than 250 companies offer workers comp insurance in Missouri.

The department says the frequency of on-the-job injuries is down 60 percent in the last fifteen years.

Insurance companies are under no obligation to drop their rates. But Huff says a highly competitive marketplace will take care of that issue.

While some business groups think the workers comp reform law of 2005 is the main force behind four years of declining premiums, Huff says, “Worker’s Compensation, if you will, is the no-fault insurance. So its benefits are driven on a statutory basis not tied to jury verdicts so to speak.” His department’s Consumer Affairs Director, Angela Nelson, says the industry group has found some impact of the law, but not much. “They only estimated a one percent change in loss costs so they did not feel it was a significant impact upon our loss costs. The trends that we’re seeing are also being played out across the country, she says.

Interview with John Huff and Angela Nelson 5:03 mp3  work7