Aug. 1, 1997
MADISON -- Gov. Tommy G. Thompson today announced that worker's compensation insurance rates in Wisconsin will decrease by an average of 4.17 percent. The drop was effective July 1, 1997. The new rate will translate to approximately $40 million savings in insurance premiums during the next 12 months.
The new rate is reflective of an overall downward trend in Wisconsin for worker's compensation costs, with an average cumulative reduction of approximately 23 percent during the last four years. This is a reduction in the overall rate level. Industry classifications and individual employers may have higher or lower rates, depending on their loss experience.
"Lower worker's compensation rates are great news for Wisconsin employers and employees," Gov. Thompson said. "We have worked hard to foster a strong working relationship between labor and management in Wisconsin that has helped us to keep rates low and reduce them even further."
Wisconsin has one of the lowest average premium rates among the 50 states and the District of Columbia according to a recent report of the State of Oregon's Department of Consumer and Business Services.
"Wisconsin continues to experience worker's compensation rates that are among the lowest in the nation," Gov. Thompson said. "Reducing costs to businesses means more jobs and more economic development. Wisconsin's worker's compensation program is among the most efficient and serves as a model for the rest of the nation."
In Wisconsin, worker's compensation insurance and related activities are overseen by experts in two governmental agencies. The State Worker's Compensation Division of the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is responsible for the administration of the Worker's Compensation Act of Wisconsin. The State Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) is charged with overseeing the conduct and financial affairs of insurers and the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau, a licensed rate service organization responsible for rate and policy form development and rate classification of employers.
Gov. Thompson noted that a stable worker's compensation system is considered a prime economic development tool. He credited workers, businesses, the health care and insurance industries, as well as OCI and DWD, for these factors that contribute to lower rates:
"Wisconsin's regulatory environment for worker's compensation insurance emphasizes stability in the rating structure so that employers are better able to project what their costs will be from year to year," explained Insurance Commissioner Josephine Musser, whose office approved the new rate. "Affordable and stable costs, along with reasonable benefits and an efficient delivery system, are the hallmarks of the Wisconsin worker's compensation program."
Also credited for the success of Wisconsin's system is the Worker's Compensation Advisory Council. The council consists of labor, management, insurance, and government representatives who work together to provide good benefits at reasonable costs with a minimum of litigation.
In large measure, the stability and harmony of Wisconsin's worker's compensation system is a result of the efforts of the Compensation Advisory Council, which for decades has advised DWD and the Legislature on changes in the Worker's Compensation Act. Gov. Thompson said that this Advisory Council is the envy of other states and a model for fostering strong labor-management relations in the state.
DWD Secretary Linda Stewart commented: "Wisconsin cannot take the health of its worker's compensation system for granted. We must strive to maintain our competitive advantage to promote continued economic growth."
EDITOR'S NOTE: The worker's compensation rate decrease (of 4.17 percent, on average, effective July 1, 1997) is for new and renewal business. Policy rates will not drop mid-term, and employers cannot cancel and re-write current policies to qualify for a decrease.