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Business community balks at comp rate hike, vows fight


Rate increases scheduled to start in August for workers compensation coverage in Florida are not going over well with state businesses.

The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday that it plans to partner with the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business groups to find a legislative solution to the proposed 17.1% increase, a Greater Pensacola Chamber news release said.

In a membership survey given by the Greater Pensacola Chamber, 87% of respondents said the rate increase will negatively impact business, while 97% said they wanted the Chamber to fight the increase, according to the statement.

“We surveyed our Chamber membership and found that our local business community is adamantly opposed to this workers compensation rate hike,” Gary Bembry, Greater Pensacola Chamber's board chairman said in the statement, “We also heard loud and clear that our membership wants the Chamber to join the fight in finding a solution to this onerous rate increase.”

The National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc., which files rates on behalf of Florida's workers comp insurers and other stakeholders, proposed a 15% rate increase May 27 in response to a recent Florida Supreme Court decision deeming it unconstitutional to cap claimant attorney fees. The increase accounts for the potential impact the court ruling could have.

NCCI filed a proposal with the Office of Insurance Regulation of a first year impact of 15% from the court decision and a 1.8% increase in response to updates to the state's health care provider reimbursement manual. If the state sees 17.1% in rate increases it will make it the highest ranked state for voluntary pure lost cost in the Southeast, according to NCCI.