Montana Improves in WC Premium Rate (OR Survey)

From the Montana Chamber of Commerce 10-22-2012:

Oregon Study Shows Improvement/Problem

Our work in the 2011 Legislature has paid off! The 2012 Oregon Work Comp Rate Ranking Study has been released, showing Montana went from 1st highest to 8th highest work comp rates in the nation last year. The press release, including links to a variety of related material, is linked below.

The summary itself is here:

The Montana Chamber will continue to focus on both safety and on work comp costs, as our comparisons to neighboring states are still out of whack.

Our comment is while the relative ranking may have changed in this survey, the changes set out by passage of 334 were somewhat illusory. Several insurance companies (Plan 2 and Plan 3) reduced premiums based upon the projections made by NCCI after HB334 passed. Unfortunately, we do not see the longer term impact upon claims costs to be nearly as significant as projected by NCCI. Experience of the self-insured organizations (Plan 1) has been pure claims costs level with prior years or in some cases slightly up (5%). If claims costs are not significantly reduced as a result of HB 334, premium rates will rise back up. The bill was successful in getting the word out that Montana is serious about working on modifying its workers' compensation system...resulting in a few new insurance companies entering the market. The additional competition may well lead to innovations in claims processes and procedures as well as downward pressure on premiums. HB 334 was a good start, but the state still needs to face the significant drivers underlying the exorbitant costs in Montana, punitive damages (bad faith) exposure for Plan 1 and 2, but exemption for Plan 3, a one judge system of WC jurisprudence, course and scope issues much more broad than competing states and a Supreme Court that has determined that subrogation in WC is against public policy (Montana may be the only jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere that does not allow the claims payer to pursue recovery).