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California workers compensation insurers’ total combined losses and expenses declined to $12 billion in 2020 from $13.2 billion in 2019, according to the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California.
Total losses in 2020 represented 85% of calendar year premium compared with 82% of 2019’s calendar year premium, Oakland, California-based WCIRB reported Tuesday in its annual workers compensation losses and expenses report.
Medical losses made up more than half of total loss payments in the state in 2020, but total medical costs declined to $4.2 billion from $4.6 billion in 2019; 53% of total loss payments were attributed to medical benefits for the year.
Indemnity payments — including vocational rehabilitation — accounted for $3.7 billion of total loss payments for 2020, down from $3.8 billion in 2019. Of this amount, 53% was paid out for temporary disability benefits and 36% was paid out for permanent partial disability benefits.
In 2020 medical service payments, 32.5% were made to a hospital, followed by 11.3% for physician specialists and 9.1% for physical therapy, compared with 30.4% for hospital, 11.6% for specialists and 9.3% for therapy in 2019. Payments per service held relatively steady in 2020 with 37% of payment made for evaluation and medicine, 26.9% for physical medicine and 13% for surgery.
Slip and falls represented the largest percentage of total reported workers comp losses at 28%, followed by back injuries at 17%, other cumulative injuries at 6%, carpal tunnel and repetitive motion injuries at 5% and psychiatric and mental stress injuries at 2%.
The amount paid to workers comp applicants’ attorneys — which are generally incurred indemnity losses — also declined in 2020, falling to $402 million for the year compared with $446 million in 2019.
Written premium in California dropped 13% in 2020 to $2 billion — the lowest in the state since 2012 — driven by continued decreases in average insurer charged rates, the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California reported Thursday.