New Jersey: Comp premiums to drop by 1 percent while benefits will increase in '09
Steven M. Goldman, commissioner of the Department of Banking and Insurance, said workers' comp insurance premiums will drop by about 1 percent in 2009, saving employers in the state an estimated $33 million.
"There are a number of factors that affect workers' compensation premium costs," he said. "A major one is workplace safety. New Jersey employers have responded to incentives that have rewarded a conscientious workplace safety culture. The resultant reduction in losses has helped lower insurance rates."
Goldman also announced that the maximum workers' comp benefit for injured workers will increase to $773 a week in 2009 -- a 4 percent increase over last year. This automatic benefit increase is tied to the state average weekly wage for New Jersey employees, he said.
"In addition to this rate decrease, which will benefit New Jersey employers and support our economic growth objectives, Gov. Jon Corzine recently signed enforcement and insurance reforms that will further strengthen the state's workers' compensation program for both business and workers," said David J. Socolow, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which administers workers' comp claims.
The five reform bills signed into law by Corzine were aimed at strengthening the ability of the New Jersey's workers' comp system to protect injured employees. In addition to expanding public representation on the Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau's governing board, which sets premium rates for workers' comp in the state, the legislation also provides greater flexibility to address emergent medical needs and provide timely medical care. Corzine said the laws provide enhanced authority for judges of compensation to enforce their decisions and help ensure that employees working in New Jersey are properly protected with workers' comp coverage.
New Jersey's private sector workers' comp system recorded about $1.9 billion in premiums from employers during 2007, the latest calendar year available. Carriers paid about 115,000 claims last year to employees in the state who were injured or disabled on the job. In 2007, the average medical cost per case was approximately $17,000, and the average cost for lost wages and other indemnity was nearly $20,000.
February 5, 2009
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