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R&R Insurance Blog

Wisconsin Apprenticeships mean up to $2,500 Savings

Posted by Dan Maurer

Fri, Aug 31, 2018 @ 08:07 AM

Wisconsin Apprenticeship SavingsThis year Wisconsin contractors and manufacturers with apprenticeship programs are saving 2% on their Workers’ Compensation insurance premium.

The 2% credit (maximum $2,500) is a no-brainer for any business to claim with an active apprenticeship program, but there are few qualifications to keep in mind along with the knowledge that some insurance carriers are opting out of the savings altogether.

In an atmosphere of record low unemployment rates, and the Foxconn behemoth on the horizon, the state is incentivizing apprenticeship programs in hopes they will help fill the growing trades’ skills gap. In March of this year, Wisconsin passed Assembly Bill 508 which slashed regulations in the trades requiring ratios often higher than 4 journeymen to 1 apprentice down to 1-to-1. In September of last year, financial incentives were announced, granting a 2% Apprenticeship premium credit on Workers’ compensation insurance for Wisconsin business going into effect next month.

Who qualifies?

Claiming the 2% credit for your business is not much of a hoop to jump through, but on the other hand Wisconsin isn’t handing them out like candy. The credit only applies to insurance workers’ compensation polices with effective dates of 10/1/2018 or later. If your policy has already renewed in 2018, you’ll need to change your effective date (not always recommended) or wait until next year to claim the credit.

Your agent must notify your insurance carrier that you are eligible for the credit and provide evidence of participation in an apprentice program administered by the Wisconsin Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards for a minimum of 6 months. This means to claim the 2% credit on 10/1/2018 your apprentice program must have been approved by WBAS and running since March of 2018.

Not Every Insurance Carrier is Opting-In

If your insurance policy is in the pool, your company is automatically qualifies for the program. If your business is in the private market, which most are, there is a chance it might not…

When the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance announced the credit in 2017, they made it clear that this was a voluntary program for the private insurance market.  While all carriers were automatically enrolled into the program, it was left up to carriers if they wanted to opt-out.

At first there was a bit of waffling, but in the end a majority of carriers have decided to opt-in. That said, a large minority are opting-out, some of whom are big players in the construction and manufacturing markets. R&R Insurance keeps an updated list of carriers opting-in and out.

Contact an agent to see if your carrier is opting-in for the 2% credit.

Topics: Workers Compensation

Workers Compensation Audit Noncompliance Charge | Effective January 1, 2017

Posted by Nancy McMurry

Wed, Nov 30, 2016 @ 09:19 AM

Work-Comp-Audit-Noncompliance-Charge.jpgThe Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau is now requiring a mandatory audit noncompliance charge (ANC). Effective January 1, 2017 any insured who does not comply with a workers compensation audit will be billed an additional two times the estimated workers compensation premium.

 

For Example:

$50,000 Estimated Annual Premium

+$100,000 Audit Noncompliance Charge

_______________________________________

$150,000 Total Amount Due

 

The intent of the charge is to provide uniformity in assessing a penalty. It is also an incentive for insureds to cooperate with the premium audit as required by the policy contract. Improved compliance with the audit process will lead to increased accuracy, as well as ensure rate accuracy and sufficiency.

  • The ANC is not a premium surcharge. It is premium and is subject to premium tax.
  • The ANC endorsement is not optional and is mandatory on all Wisconsin workers compensation insurance policies.
  • The ANC endorsement will be treated the same as the WI Law Endorsement and the WI Cancellation and Non-renewal endorsement.
  • There are no changes to the Wisconsin cancellation rate. Current term policies cannot be cancelled for nonpayment of the audit bill.

While compliance with the work comp audit has always been important, 2017 will prove to be more important than ever. For additional information on the ANC, contact a Knowledge Broker at R&R Insurance.

Topics: Work Comp, audit, Work Comp Audit, Workers Compensation

Workers Comp Audit Paperwork | New Updates Beginning Jan 1st, 2017

Posted by Debbie Madsen

Mon, Nov 14, 2016 @ 08:32 AM

Once your Workers Compensation policy has expired, you can exppaperwork.jpgect to be contacted by your carrier. You will be receiving either a letter or a phone call, asking for your actual payroll numbers so that they can “true up” your premium.

Despite the importance of the audit process, many policyholders simply ignore this request due to the seemingly cumbersome nature of audit paperwork. Although most carriers handle this situation differently, when this happens the carrier is then forced to arbitrarily assign a final payroll, which is generally not to the policyholders favor.

However, this process will all change on January 1, 2017 when the WCRB (Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau) will mandate that every carrier add an endorsement charge to your Workers Compensation policy called “Audit Noncompliance Charge” or ANC. 

The intent of this endorsement is to create uniformity in how carriers arbitrarily assign payroll in the absence of actual payroll data. As of January 1, 2017 the charge will be 2 times your estimated premium. This will be very costly for those policyholders who choose not to return the audit paperwork. Therefore, while it has always been important to complete the audit paperwork, starting January 1st it will now be even more critical.   

For more information on the changes to Workers Compensation policies coming in 2017, contact a Knowledge Broker.

Topics: Workers Compensation, audit, WCRB

Work Comp Update: Carnac the Magnificent Goes to Madison

Posted by Scott Shaver

Mon, Nov 16, 2015 @ 08:13 AM

Workers-Compensation-UpdateNo one has ever accused me of being a clairvoyant. Heck, if I had the ability to predict the future, I never would have traveled out to Denver to watch the Packers get pushed around by the Broncos. But every so often, I accumulate enough information to make an educated guess on future events. That includes events that could change the worker’s compensation landscape in Wisconsin.

 

Proposed changes to the work comp act are coming in from all directions but there are definitely some common themes that have emerged. From the Governor's budget bill, to the Worker's Compensation Advisory Council's agreed bill, to a potential bill from State Representative John Spiros, it doesn't take an omniscient soothsayer like Carnac the Magnificent to figure out that change is on the horizon. Here's a summary of most of the changes that I anticipate you will see take effect in 2016. These changes will have an impact on your workers compensation premiums going forward.

 

  • The rate paid for permanency due to injuries and surgeries is going up. Look for increases averaging about 6% each year over the next two years. That bodes well for injured workers and the attorneys who represent them.

 

  • Injured workers who are permanently and totally disabled with an injury date of 1/1/2003 and earlier are going to get a raise in the disability benefits they receive.

 

  • Injured workers who are going to school for retraining will be able to work a part-time job up to 24 hours without having an offset on their disability payments. They now have the potential of making more money on worker’s compensation than they were making at the time they were injured.

 

  • Medical providers will now have limitations on what they can charge for medicines dispensed at their offices.

 

  • Medical providers will also have limitations on what they can charge payers for electronic medical records. That limit will most likely be $10 per request.

 

  • An injured worker will have less time to file a claim against their employer. The statute of limitations will move from 12 years to at least 6 years. Maybe even 2 years.

 

  • Permanency ratings for injuries, provided by physicians, will now be offset by pre-existing permanent disabilities and physical impairments.

 

  • Injured workers on light duty who are terminated for good cause based on UI standards will no longer be able to collect Temporary Total Disability (TTD) payments.

 

  • Administrative Law Judges will have the ability to force you to pay for retraining your injured workers when you are unable to accommodate permanent restrictions, even before they have stepped foot in a classroom. This will increase the settlement value of future claims.

 

So let’s be clear; this is just my speculation. If I truly had the ability to predict the future, I would be sipping pina coladas on a warm beach somewhere right now. But here I am living in Wisconsin and the only thing I know for sure is that it’s going to get much colder very soon. At least I think it will.

 

If you would like to discuss how these potential changes could impact the cost of your worker’s comp, or better yet, if you would like some advice on how to best position yourself to make the most of these changes, please contact me so that we can discuss further.

Topics: Workers Compensation, Business Insurance

The Boring Beetle of Worker’s Compensation

Posted by Scott Shaver

Fri, Nov 06, 2015 @ 02:54 AM

Large Rate Increase for Landscapers Effective 10/1/15

 

Landcape

Over the past 9 years or so, worker’s compensation rates for Wisconsin landscapers have remained relatively flat. Business owners have benefited from predictability in costs for their most expensive line of casualty insurance. With the new rates effective for 10/1/15 – 9/30/16, owners should be prepared for an invasion on their bottom line similar to the effect the Emerald ash borer has had on unprotected ash trees.

 

With rates averaging about $9.72 for every $100 of landscape payroll from 2006 – 2013, the industry saw a 3% rate increase in 2014. This year, with a new rate of $11.35, you are facing a 12.8% increase compared to last year.

 

Unfortunately, you have no control over the landscape rate that is calculated by the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau. You do, however, have control over many other aspects of your business that will have a direct impact on what you pay for your worker’s compensation insurance. But like every great landscaping project, it requires a vision and a plan. Do you have a plan in place to prepare yourself for substantial worker’s comp premium increases next year?

Topics: Workers Compensation, Work Comp, landscapers, Business Insurance

ACA Impact: Prepare for Cost Shifting in the Worker’s Compensation System

Posted by Scott Shaver

Thu, Oct 08, 2015 @ 11:18 AM

Business OwnerQuite often, I’ll get questions from employers wondering what impact the ACA will have on worker’s compensation. A recent study by the Worker’s Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) helps shed some light on what employers can expect. It’s not encouraging news.

 

According to the recent WCRI study, hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance claims nationally could shift from health insurers to worker’s compensation carriers.

 

The concept is simple. The Affordable Care Act encourages health providers to form Accountable Care Organizations that shift payment from a traditional fee-for-service model to capitated or pre-paid health insurance. As you know through experience, most worker’s compensation treatment is based on fee-for-service.

 

The study suggests that providers may, in some cases, have a financial incentive to categorize an injury as being work-related. In States like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania where a large percentage of workers are enrolled in capitated health plans, this case shifting could be significant.

 

For more information on the report, click here.

 

If you would like assistance with evaluating your current worker’s compensation policies and procedures to see if there are ways to strength your program, please contact me.

Topics: Workers Compensation, Health Reform, Workers comensation, healthcare reform, ACA, Business Insurance

Update on Workers Compensation: Labor and Management Proposals

Posted by Scott Shaver

Fri, Sep 25, 2015 @ 02:55 AM

Business-OwnerThe workers compensation act in Wisconsin changes every two years through an “advisory council” process. The Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council, made up of five management representatives and five labor representatives, is charged with exchanging proposals and negotiating an agreed bill that goes off to the legislature for consideration. Typically, this agreed bill makes it through the legislature without much friction. But that's not always the case.

 

As we are nearing the end of this biennial cycle, it’s important that you understand the proposals that are being considered by the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council as many could have a direct impact on what you pay for worker’s compensation insurance in the future. Here’s a brief summary of the key proposals:

 

LABOR PROPOSALS

  • Rate Increases and Indexing: Labor is looking for sizable increases in payments made for injuries that involve permanent partial and permanent total disability.
  • Continuation of Healthcare Contributions: For those employers who offer health insurance, labor is looking to require that you continue to make those employer contributions to the health plan for as long as the injured worker is in that disability state. That would be for an unlimited time and it would be regardless of whether you had terminated the employee for cause or they quit for any reason.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Exceptional: This would allow employees who are being retrained as a result of a workplace injury to collect full indemnity benefits while in school AND collect wages at another employer for up to 20 hours without an offset of indemnity benefits.

MANAGEMENT PROPOSALS

  • Statute of Limitations Reduction: Currently, an employee has 12 years to pursue a worker’s compensation claim against their employer. Management is looking to reduce that to 3 years.
  • Eliminate Statutory Permanent Partial Disability Ratings: Currently, there are certain surgical procedures that result in permanency ratings that automatically start at a minimum level, regardless of the outcome of the procedure. With advancements in medical procedures and technology, the management representatives would like to see these minimums removed.
  • Controls on RX’s Dispensed at a Doctor’s Office: Some doctors are dispensing prescriptions to injured workers at their offices and charging insurance carriers 3-4 times the cost of the drugs. Management is asking to implement some controls on the cost and length of time a physician can dispense meds from their office.
  • Medical Cost Containment: Most states in the U.S. have instituted aggressive cost containment measures to better control the cost of treatment for work related injuries. Wisconsin lacks that type of control and the cost of medical treatment is sometimes 2-3 times more expensive for work related procedures as compared to those covered under a health plan. Management is also asking for the ability to direct where an injured worker can get treated.

 

No doubt that many of these proposals, if they become part of a bill that gets passed by the legislature, will have an impact on the cost of your insurance going forward.

 

For additional insight on how any of these might impact the cost of your worker’s compensation insurance, please contact me.

Topics: Workers Compensation, Work Comp, Business Insurance

How Does My Experience MOD Compare With Other Community Action Agencies

Posted by Scott Shaver

Tue, Sep 22, 2015 @ 10:59 AM

Workers-CompensationAre you curious on how your experience modification factor (“ex-mod” as it is referred to in the industry) compares with other Community Action Agencies in Wisconsin? Before we get to that comparison, let’s take a step back to be sure we have a basic understanding of the experience modification factor.

 

Each year, about 3-4 months prior to your worker’s compensation insurance renewal, your Community Action Agency is provided with the experience modification factor that is calculated by the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Rating Bureau. That ex mod is based on three years of your prior loss information and simply put; it’s a reflection of how well your organization is controlling the frequency and severity of workplace injuries. It’s somewhat of a scorecard. In fact, in the for-profit world, many general contractors will only work with sub-contractors who have ex-mods at or below 1.0.

 

If your Agency is “average”, your experience mod is a 1.0. If you have more losses than expected for the work that you do, you will have a “debit mod” and pay more for your premium. If you have less than expected losses for the work that you do, then you will have a “credit mod” and you will pay less, thereby freeing up additional funds for vital community programs.

 

What I found in my analysis of the ex-mod data is that only four of the Agencies in Wisconsin have ex-mods under 1.0. And in most of instances, the ex-mods are just slightly under the benchmark. The remaining Agencies have mods over 1.0 and are paying from 5% to 39% more for their work comp insurance. Whether your ex-mod is over or under 1.0, I am confident that every Agency has the ability to reduce their ex-mod from its current value. And what programs could you fund if you were able to reduce those costs?

 

Click here to view the summary.

 

If you have an interest in learning how low your ex-mod can actually go, or would like to discuss potential policies and procedures that you could implement in the short term that would have the most impact on driving down your specific ex-mod, please contact me.

Topics: Workers Compensation, Work Comp, Experience MOD, community action agencies, experience modificatio, experience modification factor, Business Insurance

Financial Impact of Changing Your Work Comp Effective Date

Posted by Nancy McMurry

Tue, Sep 08, 2015 @ 10:35 AM

cash w stethoscopeThere are various reasons as to why a business may try changing their Work Comp policy effective date: matching your Work Comp policy to your fiscal year or Package policy, request by new ownership, or you’re trying to get out of the Pool. Before you start down this road, you should first be looking at the financial impact of making this change.

It’s never as easy as it seems! We worked with a client who changed their effective date in order to make issuing certificates of insurance easier. This ultimately cost them $100,000!

A regular timeline has the Wisconsin Workers Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB) using 36 months of data to determine an experience MOD rate. However, when changing your policy effective date, the WCRB is able to use up to 45 months of data. Say you have had a year or two with costly claims, they will hang on longer due to this process. Remember: the higher the MOD, the more expensive the premium.

It must be noted: an Anniversary Rating Date (ARD) would not allow you to take advantage of a rate or rule change.
Say after looking at business analyses, claims review, and the financial impact of changing the Work Comp effective date, you determine this is the best scenario for your business. Once you begin the process of changing your Work Comp effective date, it will take five years to get back to a regular rating cycle. Not only is this a time consuming process, it could be a very costly process.

The R&R Resource Center works with businesses every day to proactively manage claims, ensure correct analyses are being performed on Work Comp insurance, and educate the pro’s and con’s of changing effective dates. The processes in place help ensure accurate data which ultimately saves you money. Contact us today for a review of your current Risk Management Program.

Topics: Risk Management, Workers Compensation, Resource Center, Business Insurance

Understanding the Difference Between Experience Mod and DART Rate

Posted by Maureen Joy

Thu, Aug 13, 2015 @ 08:32 AM

Fully understanding your organization’s Work Comp Experience Mod and OSHA DART Rate will not only help you achieve your desired outcomes for employee safety, but will also give you a point of reference for benchmarking against others in your industry. In addition, knowing your DART rate will help you prepare for a potential site visit from OSHA.

 

However, in order to better understand these you two variables, you need to first recognize the difference between the two. The following is a breakdown of their differences:

 

Experience-Mod-vs-DART-Rate-Graphic

 

EXPERIENCE MOD

The Work Comp Experience Mod is a numerical expression of a company's accident and injury record compared with the average for the firm's industry. An organization’s e-mod is calculated using payroll and loss data for the oldest three of the last four years.

 

An experience mod of 1.0 means a company has an average safety record, while an experience mod of 0.80 means a company has a good safety record that merits a 20 percent discount. An experience mod of 1.20 means the firm's accident rate is above the industry norm and raises a company's costs by 20 percent.

 

DART RATE

OSHA’s DART Rate, which is an acronym for Days Away or Restricted Time, is a measure of accident severity. It counts the number of cases in the calendar year in which a company had an employee away from work due to an injury or who was working under restrictions due to a work injury.

 

As you can see from the breakdown above, the common denominator between these two variables is eliminating lost time injuries. R&R Insurance has multiple resources available for helping you understand as well as achieve your desired outcomes for both your Experience Mod and DART Rate. Contact a knowledge broker for additional information.

Topics: OSHA, Workers Compensation, Experience MOD, DART rate, Business Insurance