Why can't I have a Workers Comp Insurance Deductible?

Today, we had another $300 workers compensation claim.

First, I will begin by saying "Thank God for the workers comp system in this country". Basically the philosophy of the system is this: Workers give up their right to sue their employer over workplace injuries in return for a guarantee of medical care and a defined benefit compensation system. Yeah, some states (like Florida, in particular) have some real fraud and management problems. In California last year, before reform, I was paying $20 in workers comp premiums for every $100 in wages -- and this despite having no claims the last few years. But, given the state of the lawsuit industry in this country, imagine the effect if workers could sue over every injury, large or small. Shudder.

As an aside, this issue has greatly affected the whole asbestos litigation situation, as detailed here. It can be argued that most workers' asbestos injuries are more likely due to poor protections on the job site, rather than any product problems from the asbestos makers. Asbestos using companies, after all, have known asbestos is dangerous since before WWII. In fact, navy shipyards in WWII were some of the worst offenders in terms of not using masks, poor ventilation, etc. But, since employers generally can't get sued over injuries (and its hard to sue the feds), lawyers concentrate on the "product labeling" argument and sue the asbestos makers into bankruptcy, which explains why litigation attorney's coach their clients like this.

Anyway, in many states, workers comp needs reform. Ahnold, for example, did a nice job of attacking this issue in California, and our company got an immediate 10% discount on our rates once the legislation passed. One thing that is never discussed and frustrates the heck out of me is the issue of deductibles. We get a lot of small claims (e.g. went to emergency room, got checked out, all was OK, went home). As with any kind of insurance policy, filing a lot of small claims this year is death on premiums next year. Workers comp is worse than most, as it has an experience mod system that guarantees that for every dollar in claims that goes out this year you pay an extra $1+ next year in premiums (in the next few days Coyote Blog will be starting a new series called "things they didn't teach me in business school" and the mechanics of workers comp will be one of the first posts).

Unfortunately, many states, such as Arizona, do not allow you to have a deductible on your workers comp policy. This is not an insurance company practice that might change with new competitors, but the law. So, we keep paying out small claims that probably drive up our premiums $2 for every dollar in claims.

  • Dave McNeal

    I have been going around in circle with a WC problem. I have a business is Fl that was started in 2005. I have been with a leasing company for the last 1.5 years. My company has never been reported to NCCI as a seperate business. I recently found an insurance agent that could write me my own WC policy. When figuring the premium for the policy he based it on the leasing companies experience MOD. I have talked with NCCI several times only to recieve conflicting opinions on how my new experience MOD will be calculated. I have been told that my experince MOD will be a 1 because of the lack of reporting time for my business. They have also told me my MOD will be based on the leasing companies MOD for the next two years because of the short time in business. The insuance company isnt sure what my MOD will become either. Although they believe it will become a 1 once reported. Need help.