Supreme Court Changes Fuel Workers Compensation Discussion
The Florida workers’ compensation insurance market presents interesting regulatory and legislative dynamics. Two Florida Supreme Court cases threatened to unravel some of the legislative reforms that helped reduce workers’ comp rates in this state. This prompted concerns among some policymakers that the legislative must revisit workers’ compensation laws to head off future rate increases for employers.
Meanwhile, workers’ compensation rates have gone down. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation recently approved a rate decrease of almost 14% for 2019. This leaves the question whether fears of rising rates are unwarranted, or whether Florida needs to act now to avoid an inevitable turn in the market.
Governor Ron DeSantis’ appointment of two new Florida Supreme Court justices (with one more to come) has renewed this debate. Many observers believe the new composition of the Supreme Court will be more favorable for upholding reforms. This is in contrast to the court in recent years, which struck down legislative limitations.
The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee will offer one of the first looks at workers’ compensation post-election (and post-court appointments) when it meets this week. Senate President Bill Galvano also has indicated his chamber is likely to take up workers’ compensation issues this year.
Although most parties agree that low workers’ compensation rates are good for employers, the competing interests disagree on how to achieve that goal. Workers’ compensation issues are among the most heavily lobbied in the Capitol because they involve employers and business interests, insurers, health care providers, and trial lawyers.