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Washington state monopoly comp insurer proposes 2% rate hike

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Workers compensation advisory rates for Washington state businesses could increase an average of 2% in 2016, the state Department of Labor & Industries said.

Labor & Industries is the state's monopoly workers comp insurer, covering more than 2 million workers, according to the department. It said Wednesday in a statement that it is proposing an average 2% rate hike since the cost of providing workers comp insurance increases as wages and health care costs rise.

Cost saving initiatives such as promoting injury prevention and improving the workers comp claims process “are allowing for a proposed increase well under the wage inflation rate” of 4.2%, according to the statement.

“When workers compensation rates are like a roller coaster ride, it frustrates everyone,” Labor & Industries Director Joel Sacks said in the statement. “We're not going to do that. I'm committed to keeping rates steady and predictable.”

Mr. Sacks added that the “small increase will help build the reserve funds needed to keep our program financially healthy.”

An employer's actual rate will depend on its industry and claims history, among other things, the statement notes.

The department will hold public hearings throughout October so the public can learn about and comment on the proposed rate increase, the statement says. Final rates will be adopted by early December and go into effect Jan. 1.