Coverage for a carpenter costs an employer about $41 for every $100 paid in salaries, according to trade groups. For a roofer, the premium costs about $51 for every $100 in salaries.
Three years ago a study found that Florida was the most expensive state in the nation for workers' compensation premiums, by a margin of at least 21%, reports Michael Bonts, communications director for the NEFBA.
A panel appointed by Governor Jeb Bush has been studying the issue and developing a reform proposal. In his State of the State address last month, the governor urged lawmakers to enact the panel’s reforms. Those include:
- A two-track system that could resolve simple disputes quickly while dealing with more complex claims in greater depth
- Raising the workers' comp fee schedule for doctors, many of whom are now reluctant to treat injured workers
- Making it more difficult for workers to win permanent disability benefits
Prompted by a 21% hike in premiums in 1992, Florida legislators last overhauled the state’s workers' compensation system in a special session the following year. Lawmakers cut benefits and attorney fees, and premiums fell in the mid-1990s as a result. Now, insurers say, those costs are once again spiraling out of control.
After the latest rate hike kicks in, Florida employers will be spending more than $3 billion a year on workers' comp premiums, second only to California’s $8.5 billion. It is estimated that as much as $10,000 of the price of a $100,000 new home goes to pay workers' comp coverage for the contractors and subcontractors who build the house.
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