Workers’ compensation insurance provides indemnity and medical benefits to employees injured on the job. Many states, including Florida, set the premiums for workers’ compensation insurance, so shopping around isn’t the way to save money. However, employers can reduce their workers’ compensation insurance premiums by maintaining a safe workplace

Insurance companies prefer safe workplaces because there are presumably fewer claims to pay. They encourage employers to maintain a safe workplace by using experience modification ratings to adjust premiums. Employers with fewer claims are rewarded with premium credits, and employers with more claims may face increased premiums.

The experience modification rating, or experience mod, is designed to tailor the final premium to an employer’s actual claims experience. An employer’s actual workers’ compensation claims experience, typically over a three year period, is compared to other employers operating in the same type of business with a similar number of employees.

If an employer’s claims experience is consistent with the industry average, the experience mod is 1.0, which when multiplied by the base premium, will not increase or decrease the premium. If the claims experience is 25% better than the industry average, the experience mod will be .75, which when multiplied by the base premium, will decrease the premium by 25%. Alternatively, if the claims experience is 25% worse, the experience mod will be 1.25, which will increase the premium by 25%.

The experience mod gives more weight to accident frequency than to accident severity. In other words, an employer with one loss totaling $100,000 will have a better experience mod than an employer with 10 losses totaling $100,000. Since any single injury could have astronomical costs, an employer with a higher frequency of small claims is considered a greater risk than an employer with a single, expensive claim.

Medical-only claims do impact the experience modification as much as indemnity claims, so employers are not necessarily penalized when they occur. However, the existence of open or unresolved claims can negatively impact the experience mod, so employers benefit from getting claims resolved and closed.

Insurers may offer dividend payments to employers with few or no claims. Dividends, which are generally reserved for the most attractive risks, are usually based on a sliding scale wherein the amount of the dividend decreases as the number of claims increases. Rather than focus on the most generous dividend percentage, employers should compare dividend percentages that comport with their specific claims history.

Employers can reduce their workers’ compensation insurance premiums by taking advantage of the experience modification rating system. Though it requires a commitment to workplace safety and loss control, the savings could be significant. Given the complexity, employers should work with an insurance agent who knows about the experience modification rating system and available dividend plans, and who can ensure claims are treated appropriately and resolved quickly.

If you would like more information about workers’ compensation insurance or how Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk can help control your workers’ compensation insurance costs, please contact us.