Workers’ Comp Rate Increase for Florida Employers – Is it Justified?

Since the recent Supreme Court decision this past year that held parts of our work comp law unconstitutional, the insurance industry and our Florida Insurance Commissioner have attempted to create a false insurance crisis by increasing premium rates for Florida employers by 14.5%. They have secretly worked in tandem to insulate the insurance industry from its intentional violations of the work comp law by passing the buck to Florida employers, which in turn encourages continued misconduct by Florida work comp companies.

Now, just two days ago, the circuit court in Tallahasse, ruled that the Florida Insurance Commissioner and NCCI, the rate making organization on behalf of the insurance industry, essentially fraudulently conspired to increase work comp premium rates 14.5% to Florida employers that was about to go into effect, and issued an injunction that currently prohibits the rate hike from becoming effective. The court ruled, and cited an abundance of evidence in a 73 page order, that NCCI and the Insurance commissioner held secret meetings, and even failed to record these meetings or take minutes, intentionally excluding the public and any organization who might contest a rate hike, in direct violation of the Sunshine Law. The court also ruled that NCCI violated the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to turn over the inofrmation upon request by an employer who wanted to have the data reviewed and evaluated independently. The Insurance Commissioner then refused to reschedule and postpone a public hearing regarding the rate hike until such time as the documentation utilized by NCCI could be obtained and analyzed by appropriate actuarial experts in order to scrutinize the validity and justification for any rate hike, let alone one that amounted to 14.5%.

The truth of the matter is, a rate hike for work comp premiums is nothing more then a scam on all employers of this state. What people (mostly employers) need to realize and understand, is that the insurance industry, through NCCI, is claiming that they must raise the employers’ premiums because our Supreme Court has now ruled that an insurance company who wrongfully denies benefits to an injured worker will be required to pay an attorney’s fee to the attorney representing the injured worker. The key here is: “when the insurance company is deemed to have wrongfully denied benefits”. What NCCI and our Insurance commissioner is saying is: If you hire a plumber to fix your sink, and the plumber then tells you that he broke your toilet and you now need to pay him an additional sum because of his own negligence, you should have to pay him the additional fee. They are telling Florida employers that insurance companies intend to continue to break the law and wrongfully deny benefits to injured workers, and when they do, they want the insured, or the employer, to foot the bill for the insurance company’s wrongful denials, intentional or otherwise. And our Insurance Commissioner, who is supposed to look out for the public’s welfare, is on board with this scam. Not only that, but he has conspired with the insurance industry to accomplish this feat! Why in the world should an employer have to pay more as a result of the insurance company breaking the law? Well, they shouldn’t.

Ironically, the insurance industry is already blaming this on the “greedy lawyers”! This of course makes no sense whatsoever. Surely, an injured worker does not benefit from this decision; but every employer does. It is the employer who would have to pay more. It is the employer who is being scammed. And it is the employers of this state who should not only applaud this decsion, but should be outraged by the actions of the State Insurance Commissioner and the insurance industry. Every employer in the state of Florida should be calling his or her legislator as well as the insurance commissioner’s office and telling them that their rates should not be increased. Otherwise, we need a new Insurance Commissioner.

Richard B. Berman, PA