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Safety pays – again and again

SAIF will return two dividends to its customers this year: one based on premium alone, and another based on safety performance.

Over the past 27 years, Oregon workplaces have driven down workers’ compensation claims frequency by more than 70 percent through their powerful focus on workplace safety-which, in turn, has reduced workers’ compensation rates by 71 percent.

After all, the least expensive injury is the one that never happens.

To recognize how Oregon workplaces are leading the way on safety, today the SAIF board of directors declared two dividends for customers: a $120 million primary dividend to be paid to all eligible policyholders based on their premium, and a $40 million safety performance dividend to be paid based on each policyholder’s safety results.

“Oregon employers and workers are the drivers behind one of the most successful workers’ compensation systems in the nation,” said President and CEO Kerry Barnett. “It’s only right that we recognize their efforts to develop strong safety cultures that reduce workplace injuries, which reduces costs.”

This is the eighth year in a row SAIF has returned a substantial dividend to its customers, and the second year for the safety performance dividend.

On average, eligible customers can expect to receive from 21 to 37 percent of the premium paid in 2016. The dividends are possible because of SAIF’s overall financial results, including investment returns and favorable trends in claim costs.

“Nothing is more important to Oregon’s economy than our workforce,” Barnett said. “Our customers have demonstrated a commitment to keeping workers safe and allowing them to avoid the pain and anguish of a workplace injury.”

More than 47,000 customers are eligible for SAIF’s primary dividend. Of those, about 94 percent are also eligible to receive all or part of the additional safety performance dividend.

Checks will be mailed in October to eligible employers.

About SAIF
SAIF 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, visit the About SAIF page on saif.com.

Premier NW Insurance Qualifies for the Nationwide® FAST Track Contest

Premier NW Insurance is once again happy to be recognized by Nationwide for our continued role as one of Oregon’s leading writers of Agribusiness insurance.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

DES MOINES, IA – Premier NW Insurance qualified for the Nationwide® Agribusiness annual FAST Track contest. This qualification is earned as a result of new farm sales and signifies their place among Nationwide® Agribusiness’ leading writers of farm insurance. While more than 6800 agencies write farm insurance for Nationwide®, only 72 qualified for the 2016 Fast Track Contest.

“Our FAST Track contest qualifiers represent an exceptional group of Nationwide® Agribusiness Farm agents who have shown a true focus and drive as it relates to new farm sales. These agents provide important advice and counsel to customers in a highly complex type of business. We value the partnership we have with each of these agents and appreciate the level of service they provide to the agriculture community,” said Dirk Pollitt, Vice President Agribusiness Sales, Nationwide®, the #1 insurer of farms in the United States.*

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, commercial, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; banking and mortgages; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. *Based on 2016 SNL data based upon AM Best. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.

Workers’ compensation costs to drop for fourth-straight year

Salem, OR—Oregon employers will see a key portion of their workers’ compensation costs drop by an average 6.6 percent in 2017, the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) announced today. This marks the fourth year in a row – and eighth year in the past decade – that businesses will experience an average decrease in the “pure premium.”

The average decrease in pure premium – the portion of the premium employers pay insurers to cover claims costs for job-related injuries and deaths – is part of a mixture of rate changes designed to invest in workplace safety and health programs while preserving historically low costs.

The other rate changes include:

• An increase in the premium assessment, which funds state costs of running workers’ compensation and workplace safety and health programs, from 6.2 percent to 6.8 percent. The increase is needed to invest in worker protection and related programs to keep pace with an expanding economy.
• A decrease in the payroll assessment, which supports the Workers’ Benefit Fund, from 3.3 cents per hour worked to 2.8 cents per hour. The fund pays for highly successful return-to-work and other special injured-worker programs. It is financially stable to the point that a reduction in the assessment is warranted.

The combination of the changes in pure premium rates and assessment rates is a net reduction in costs for the average employer. The average employer would pay $1.02 per $100 of payroll for claims costs and assessments, down from $1.10 in 2016.

“These rate changes preserve the integrity of our workers’ compensation system,” said Patrick Allen, DCBS director. “They do so by helping maintain a positive business climate for Oregon employers while also bolstering worker protections and benefits.”

The decrease in pure premium 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 does not take into account the varying expenses and profit of insurance companies.

The decrease in the pure premium is effective Jan. 1, 2017, but employers will see the changes when they renew their policies in 2017. The changes to the premium and payroll assessments are effective Jan. 1, 2017.

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

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.

The following chart summarizes all the changes: http://www.cbs.state.or.us/external/dir/wc_cost/fi…

*Public hearing set for Monday, Oct. 17, at 8:30 a.m. at the Labor and Industries Building, Room 260, in Salem.
**Public hearing set for Friday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m., at the Labor and Industries Building, Room 260, in Salem.

Annual Oregon average pure premium rate changes and average changes by industry:
http://www.cbs.state.or.us/external/dir/wc_cost/fi…

More information about Oregon workers’ compensation costs can be found at:
http://www.cbs.state.or.us/external/dir/wc_cost/in…

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The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, visit http://www.dcbs.oregon.gov/.

For more information:
Aaron Corvin, 971-718-6973
Aaron.corvin@oregon.gov