Workers’ compensation costs to drop for third-straight year

Salem, OR—In 2016, Oregon workers’ compensation costs will decrease an average 5.3 percent, the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) announced today. This marks the third year in a row – and eighth year in the past decade – that Oregon businesses are seeing an average decrease.

The department approved the average decrease in “pure premium,” which is the portion of the premium employers pay insurers to cover anticipated claims costs for job-related injuries and deaths.

Workers’ compensation pays injured workers for lost wages and medical care for job-related injuries. A four-year decline in average medical care costs and stable wage replacement costs are the key factors continuing to drive down the pure premium.

“Keeping workers’ compensation costs low contributes to a healthy business climate for Oregon employers,” said Patrick Allen, DCBS director. “Oregon is unique in achieving these low costs while also maintaining strong benefits and programs for injured workers.”

The decrease is based on a recommendation from the Florida-based National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. (NCCI), which analyzes industry trends and prepares rate recommendations for the majority of states. Pure premium reflects only a portion of workers’ compensation costs but is the key factor behind annual cost changes. The decrease is an average, so an individual employer may see a larger decrease, no change, or even an increase depending on the employer’s own industry, claims experience, and payroll. Also, pure premium doesn’t take into account the varying expenses and profit of insurance companies.

The rate decrease is effective Jan. 1, 2016, but employers will see the changes when they renew their policies in 2016.

Oregon’s workers’ compensation premium rates have ranked low nationally for many years. Only seven states and the District of Columbia had average rates lower than Oregon in 2014, according to a biennial study conducted by DCBS. In contrast to changes made in some other states, Oregon has seen no meaningful reduction in worker benefits since at least the early 1990s.

In addition to any change in pure premium, other workers’ compensation costs reviewed annually by the department include:

• An assessment on workers’ compensation premiums to fund the state costs of running workers’ compensation and safety and health programs.

• An assessment on hours worked to fund Oregon’s highly successful return-to-work programs that help injured workers return to work quickly and earn close to their pre-injury wages. This assessment also provides increased benefits over time for workers who are permanently and totally disabled, and gives benefits to families of workers who die from workplace injuries or diseases.

This chart summarizes all the changes:…

Annual Oregon average pure premium rate changes and average changes by industry:…

More information about Oregon workers’ compensation costs can be found at…

For more information:
Jake Sunderland, 503-947-7897


Safety and health efforts result in $120 million dividend from SAIF for Oregon employers

Approximately 23 to 27 percent of the premium employers paid in 2014 will come back to them when checks are distributed in October.

When thousands of companies all focus on health and safety, good things happen.

Due to a joint effort between SAIF and its policyholders to make workplaces healthier and reduce on-the-job injuries, more than 47,000 Oregon employers will receive a dividend in October.

SAIF’s Board of Directors announced the $120 million dividend today. It amounts to a return of approximately 23 to 27 percent of premium that eligible customers paid in 2014.

“The most important dividend is the one received by workers who aren’t suffering the pain and anguish of a workplace injury,” said President and CEO Kerry Barnett. “Our employers have earned this by making their workplaces safer and reducing the costs of on-the-job injuries.”

“Our goal is to make Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work, and this is another sign that we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.

The dividend is possible because of SAIF’s overall financial results, including investment returns and favorable trends in claim costs. In recent years, there has been a particular emphasis on overall worker health and wellness, which is closely connected to prevention of workplace injuries.

Approximately 85 percent of the 47,000 employers who will receive dividends are small businesses. SAIF board chair Jenny Ulum said small businesses and their workers will especially appreciate the dividend because they often have less ready access to capital to seed growth or invest in additional safety measures.

This is the sixth year in a row in which SAIF has returned a substantial dividend to its customers.

About SAIF

SAIF Corporation is Oregon’s not-for-profit, state-chartered workers’ compensation insurance company. Since 1914 it has been caring for injured workers and helping to make workplaces safer.

For more information about SAIF, go to the About SAIF page on