A proposed 40 percent increase in workman’s compensation rates has raised a backlash from the Delaware business community. Delaware Department of Insurance has scheduled a series of public information sessions to inform and educate residents about the proposed change.
The Insurance Department held a public information session in each of Delaware’s three counties. A Nov. 13 information session was held at Delaware Technical and Community College in Georgetown.
A public hearing has been rescheduled to 10 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 20 at the Carvel State Office Building on North French Street in Wilmington.
The Delaware Compensation Rating Bureau filed papers with the Delaware Department of Insurance Aug. 21, requesting a rate increase of 43.5 percent for the residual market plan and a 38 percent increase for the voluntary plan.
Delaware businesses are required to purchase workers' compensation, which is intended to safeguard employees who suffer an on-the-job injury or illness. Medical and rehabilitation costs and lost wages are covered by workers’ compensation.
Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart issued an Oct. 2 press release announcing a public hearing on rate increases.
Deputy Insurance Commissioner Gene Reed said the department is aware of the effect on small businesses in Delaware if Weldin Stewart approves the increase. “She scrutinizes all filings, but particularly this one,” he said.
Reed said the department has received many calls and emails from businesses, and he asked that people participate in the public hearing.
Delaware House of Representatives Small Business Caucus wrote an Oct. 18 letter saying the increase could cripple the state’s economy. “Not only will business growth be automatically stunted if this increase goes into effect, many companies could be forced to examine whether layoffs are necessary,” caucus members wrote.
Caucus members, including Rep. Daniel Short, R-Seaford and Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, said they had received feedback about the rate hike from many residents, and they would make workman’s compensation a high-priority item in the 147th General Assembly.
Citizens can provide comments in writing or present them at the hearing. Written comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13. Comments should be addressed to the attention of Rhonda West, regulatory specialist at Delaware Department of Insurance at 841 Silver Lake Blvd. in Dover.
To provide oral comments at the hearing, notify West at 302-674-7379 or Rhonda.West@state.de.us, by 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 13.