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The disturbing claims frequency increase


NCCI Inc.'s 2012 Issues Report is out and contains plenty of interesting information on economic news and claims trends impacting workers compensation markets across the country.

The annual report includes an update on claim frequency that abruptly and disturbingly turned up in 2010 after of steadily declining for more than a dozen years, helping keep costs down.

Since 2010, observers have wondered whether the frequency upturn was a recession-related aberration or part of a new normal.

NCCI, a rating agency for nearly 40 states, now says in its 2012 Issues Report that an earlier study finding that lost time claims increased 9% during 2010 resulted from data distortions.

It now looks like the 2010 increase in claims was only 3%, after adjusting for those distortions.

NCCI says it will keep watching claim frequency “to determine whether the (2010) increase is a one- or two-year occurrence (as happened in the early 1980s) or a more permanent and disturbing trend.”

The “leading explanation for the upturn in claims frequency “is that small lost-time claims may have been medical-only claims during more normal times,” NCCI reports. Comp Time assumes that means that the recession, with its high joblessness, forced more claims into becoming lost-time incidents.

With widespread job insecurity more injured workers probably looked to comp benefits to help them weather the times.

Overall, NCCI says that the gradually stabilizing economy has helped slow a precipitous decline in work comp net written premium insurers experienced from 2007 to 2009.

Therefore, NCCI says it is more optimistic about the outlook for workers compensation than it was 6 months ago. Yet “the line continues to face a daunting list of challenges,” NCCI said.

You can read more about the economy and workers compensation in the report. It also contains information on workplace violence, opioid pain medications and other topics.