NCCI Hearing August 18, 2016

The Florida Department of Financial Services held a meeting August 16th in Tallahassee regarding Workers’ Compensation laws in Florida. Although all businesses may be faced with increased Workers’ Compensation rates due to the recent decision of the Florida Supreme Court that the attorney fee calculation is unconstitutional, marine industry businesses will be impacted disproportionately. The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act requires all land-based maritime employees to be covered with an additional policy and the impact of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) proposed 19.6% rate increase could result in job losses.

Here is an excerpt from an article in Politico by Christine Sexton:

A sample of eight claims settled between May and August shows that an average $31,636 had been paid in attorney’s fees, an NCCI analysis shows. Had the fee caps – set at 20 percent of the first $5,000 in benefits secured, 15 percent of the next $5,000 in benefits, and 10 percent of the remainder of the benefits provided during the first decade, and 5 percent of the benefits secured thereafter – been in effect, the average amount paid in fees for those eight cases would have been $6,946.

Staring down the possibility of double-digit increases in workers’ compensation rates, the business community is working hard to persuade the Legislature to address the issue as soon as possible.

Florida Chamber president Mark Wilson told the OIR panel that businesses did not budget for steep workers’ compensation rate increases. Money that could be spent on hiring new employees will now be directed to pay for premium increases instead.

Wilson even suggested that the state’s 60-month net increase in private sector jobs could be jeopardized if premiums were to increase by nearly 20 percent. Wilson asked Altmaier to be “100 percent actuarially honest about what these massive fees the trial lawyers are pushing will do to the system,” Wilson said. “The more honest you are about what these costs are going to be, the more-clear it will be that immediate remedies are necessary.”

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Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 221 SW 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. Phone: 954.524.2733