Gov. Jim Douglas announced that workers' compensation insurance would cost less for most Vermont employers when new rates approved by the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration (BISHCA) become effective on April 1.
This is the fourth straight year Vermont rates have decreased.
"This is excellent news, especially for the many Vermont small businesses that will benefit from this decrease," said Douglas. "Four consecutive years of decreased rates would not be possible without employers' continued attention to the issue of workplace safety, and the work of state regulators who successfully maintain a positive business environment for insurers."
In the voluntary market-the competitive market offering the most favorable rates-loss costs will decrease by an average of 4.1 percent. Loss costs are the primary component of workers' compensation rates. 93.4 percent of Vermont employers receive voluntary market coverage. In the assigned risk market-the market for employers unable to obtain coverage in the voluntary market-rates will also decrease by an average of 2.9 percent.
BISHCA Commissioner Paulette J. Thabault echoed Douglas.
"The health of Vermont's workers' compensation market has clearly improved over the past several years, as reflected in these lower rates and the declining number of employers in the assigned risk market," said Thabault. "It is also important to recognize that businesses across Vermont have worked hard to create a culture of safety at their workplaces, and the reduced costs that many employers will experience with this rate decrease are a direct result of their efforts," she said.
Workers compensation covers employers for work place injuries. Because Vermont businesses are preventing workplace mishaps in recent years, rates that businesses are charged have been declining.
The VDOL has implemented an aggressive workplace safety campaign that is really paying off. High risk industries, such as agriculture, construction and manufacturing are most affected.
Rate changes vary by industry and classification. Of particular note among 2010 rates are significant reductions for two iconic Vermont industries: dairy farms (-18.9 percent) and ski areas (-12.9 percent).
Editor's note: The unemployment insurance trust fund-not related to workers compensation mentioned above-is a state fund that is set up to pay unemployment benefits to laid-off workers. With unemployment being exceptionally high in Vermont beginning in 2009, the payouts have been far greater than what the fund is bringing in, resulting in an on-going debate over how to make the fund solvent as the in-state unemployment rate continues to rise in early 2010.