Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Delaware workers' compensation premiums fall for sixth year in a row

Delaware Public Media

Workers compensation insurance premiums fall for Delaware employers for the sixth year in a row.

Employers are required to pay for workers comp insurance, which covers medical care and lost wages for workers injured on the job.

Declining premiums do not mean lower payouts for injured workers, says Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro.

He attributes the fall in premiums in large part to the state's efforts to reduce the number of workplace injuries. Fewer or less-serious injuries translate to lower payouts by insurance providers; over time, lower payouts also reduce the premiums employers pay for insurance. However, Navarro noted that even a small number of serious workplace injuries — a worker losing a limb at a construction site, for instance — could push premiums up again.

“You can have one or two major claims that would potentially have a significant impact on premiums across the industry," he said. "That’s something we haven’t seen yet."

Navarro specifically highlighted the Department of Insurance’s Workplace Safety Program, which offers safety inspections in exchange for a discount on premiums.

But he notes some employers have avoided the program, fearing workplace safety violations will be reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“Sometimes there’s this hesitancy to work with our workplace safety program because they are fearful that we will come in and close down their shop if we find these huge violations," he said, "But we are not in the business of hampering business growth.”

Navarro adds a long-term drop in premiums can help keep businesses afloat.

Delaware Public Media has reached out to multiple labor unions and the Occupational and Health Administration for comment about trends in workplace safety violations and worker injuries in Delaware.

The updated rates will be released in November, pending a review by the state's Compensation Rating Bureau.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.