Published October 6, 2006 in WorkCompCentral
The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce declared victory Thursday in a judge’s decision to increase workers’ compensation pure premiums by 18.4%.
The group said it was the only business association to actively oppose a call for boosting rates by 32.9%.
Chief Administrative Law Judge Marvin Kittrell on Monday rejected recommendations by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) that pure premiums — also known as loss costs — be increased by 32.9%.
Kittrell’s ruling came nearly a year after the NCCI rates were scheduled to take effect and resolved opposition by the Small Business Chamber and South Carolina Consumer Advocate Elliott Elam.
Kittrell set the loss costs much closer to recommendations by the Chamber and Elam that pure premiums be increased by 12.7%.
“While this double-digit increase is still a problem for small businesses, it represents a significant victory for the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce, the only business organization that actively fought in court against the 32.9% increase proposed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance,” the Small Business Chamber said in a press release.
“What’s more,” the chamber said, “it was the additional resources for the Workers’ Compensation Commission, passed in the state’s 2005/2006 budget with the strong support of the Small Business Chamber, that were cited by the judge as part of his rationale for approving a much lower increase.”
Based on estimates from former South Carolina chief casualty actuary Martin Simons, the revised increase reflects a savings of about $80 million in annual premiums.
Elam also applauded the decision. State Insurance Department Director Eleanor Kitzman, whose actuary recommended a rate increase higher than NCCI’s, did not responded to requests for comment.
Kitzman and Companion Property and Casualty Group, a Columbia, S.C.-based carrier that appeared as a party in the rate hearings, have until Nov. 1 to appeal Kittrell’s decision, which takes effect Dec. 1 for new and renewal policies.
The Small Business Chamber also had criticized the NCCI’s actions and the manner in which carriers report losses in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Workers’ Compensation Study Committee, which meets for the third time next Tuesday in Columbia.