Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Workers' Compensation Rate Hike Approval Expected Today

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Workers' Compensation Rate Hike Approval Expected Today

Article excerpt

A workers' compensation rate increase ranging between 6 percent and 41.9 percent is expected to be approved late today, Gera ld Grimes, state insurance commissioner, said Thursday.

Grimes made that forecast as the State Board of Property and Casualty Rates ended its second day of a public hearing without making a decision. Grimes also is chairman of the three-member rate-setting board.

"I think it's obvious to all the intervenors, and even to the attorney general's office, that some rate increase is necessary," Grimes said.

"It will be somewhere between 6 percent and 41.9 percent," he said.

A 41.9 percent rate increase, requested by the insurance carriers, would require business owners to pay about $100.3 million more per year in workers' compensation insurance premiums.

A 6 percent rate increase has been recommended by the attorney general's office, which has intervened in the rate case at the request of Gov. George Nigh and House Speaker Jim Barker.

Both state leaders have said a 41.9 percent rate increase would kill Oklahoma's prospects for economic development. Nigh and Barker have cited a Price-Waterhouse study in which Oklahoma's high costof workers' compensation insurance was the only negative factor identified in an otherwise favorable business climate.

The insurance industry says it needs the 41.9 percent rate increase to offset high losses and unlimited risks.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance, a ratings statistics bureau for insurance firms in 34 states, applied for the 41.9 percent rate increase in August.

The hearing resumes at 8:30 a.m. today in the basement auditorium of the Sequoyah Building in the state Capitol complex.

Grimes said he had considered continuing the second day of the hearing until midnight Thursday - "until we can reach a decision" - but retiring board member Henry Cooper of Atoka became ill and hadto leave the room about 5:40 p. …

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