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Workers' Comp insurance rates drop for a fifth year in a row

Delaware Public Media

Many employers in Delaware should see another major drop in their workers comp insurance premiums this year.

Typically rates for workers compensation insurance ebb and flow with the markets, but rates are dropping an average of 20 percent in Delaware this year, making this the fifth consecutive year the state has seen rates go down.

Insurance commissioner Trinidad Navarro says concerted efforts starting back in 2015 have helped to lower the rates employers pay for insurance covering injuries on the job.

“Five years ago, six years ago, everyone was complaining about workers comp insurance,” Navarro says. “Because it was — it wasn’t just their opinion, I mean the data showed us that rates were increasing higher in Delaware than any other state.”

Rate increases upwards of 40 percent were proposed back in 2012, alarming state lawmakers, and prompting an effort to reduce those rates on multiple fronts.

Navarro says those efforts have helped flip that trend -- and improve workplace safety.

He says workers comp rates are one of the most important things a business looks at when deciding to come to Delaware.

“For years, our costs, our workers comp, were significantly higher than surrounding states,” says Navarro. “Now, not only are we in line and competitive but in some cases it’s even less expensive in Delaware today than it is compared to other states.”

Navarro approves the final rate decrease with guidance from advocates and insurance companies. This 20 percent decrease is the largest since rates began dropping in 2016.

Navarro also highlighted the Workplace Safety Program, which can help participating businesses save an additional 19 percent on their insurance. Navarro says only around 1,100 businesses take part, and many owners don’t know about the program, or have misconceptions about it.

He says many employers think the program acts like OSHA, with the power to shut down a business for unsafe practices. But it only encourages companies to create a safe workplace environment by offering a discount on workers comp insurance.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.