Update on Florida Workers’ Compensation

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By Tom Murphy
As we prepare for the mass migration of workers’ comp professionals to the annual WCI meeting in Orlando this August, we want to provide a brief update on the current state of workers’ compensation in Florida.

The Florida Department of Insurance, at the recommendation of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), has approved and implemented a total of almost 12% in premium-rate decreases since January 1, 2018. In my recent conversations with a number of experts in the workers’ comp arena, it looks like there may be another rate decrease in 2019. For those of us in the industry this is welcome news for all businesses and medical practices in Florida. The reality is that the 2016 Florida Supreme Court decisions are impacting the workers’ comp system in ways that have not been realized by the carriers due to the nature of the system taking a few years to catch up to the impact of an increasing number of claims and higher payments to attorneys and injured workers.

The carriers and defense attorneys we work with have confirmed the increase in the claims they are receiving as well as the demand for benefits. These increases will ultimately lead to higher costs to the carriers and the overall system and will eventually show up in the form of rate increases for everyone buying coverage. These eventual rate increases will continue until the legislature decides to implement changes to counter the Florida Supreme Court decisions.

We also want to clear up some confusion about medical practices and small businesses that utilize PEOs or payroll companies. No practice or business is required to use a PEO or payroll company to service its workers’ comp coverage. You can remain with your workers’ comp insurance company and enjoy very beneficial dividend plans while having the same options, including “pay as you go” to simplify your premium payments. Some unscrupulous PEOs and payroll companies have been less than transparent with these details and want you to believe that the only way you can get a “pay as you go” option is to purchase their workers’ comp coverage, which is not true.