NCCI to File for Higher Workers Comp Rates

In the wake of a Florida Supreme Court hearing that will allow for higher attorney fees in some cases, the organization that makes rate filings for workers compensation insurers in Florida says it will ask regulators next month to raise those rates.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance will file for higher rates "no later than mid-November," said Lori Lovgren, the NCCI attorney who handles filings for the organization in Florida. "It's going to increase rates but we're not releasing any numbers until we file," Lovgren said Thursday.

Workers comp insurance rates have dropped dramatically since 2003, and a limit on attorney fee awards is cited as one reason, along with a new law that cracked down on fraud. In Murray v. Mariner Health, the state high court said last week that a section of law requiring “reasonable” attorneys fees may sometimes preclude using the legislatively-set limit because the fee schedule may not allow high enough compensation in some cases. NCCI had already filed for a new rate for Jan. 1 asking for a rate that would have been about 14 percent lower than last year's.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty ordered NCCI to file for an even bigger drop, and issued a final order this week calling for a drop of about 18 percent. McCarty acknowledged, though, that the rate might have to go back up because of the Murray decision. McCarty also last week urged the Legislature to revisit the issue in the spring, and make it clear that it intends to cap attorney fees in workers comp cases.

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