NCCI: Workers’ Comp Claims Frequency Down 1% in 2011

July 13, 2012

Workers’ compensation claim frequency declined slightly in 2011, by a modest one percent, after increasing in 2010 for the first time in more than a decade.

According to the industry’s rating and statistical organization NCCI Holdings, frequency declined in 2011 for all industry groups, geographic regions, employer sizes and claim types. Percentage frequency declines were relatively consistent by type of injury.

Claim frequency for workers compensation injuries increased three percent in 2010, which was the first increase since 1997.

NCCI said in its report that while the one percent decline in 2011 is modest, it “suggests that the 2010 uptick may have been the result of recession-related factors such as an increase in new hires as the recovery began to take hold and a possible influx of small lost-time claims.”

Prior to the 2010 uptick, injury rates had fallen nearly 57 percent from 1990 through 2009, an average decrease of more than four percent per year, with the only other increases occurring in 1994 and 1997, NCCI said.

In its state of the industry report earlier, NCCI reported that workers’ compensation premium grew by 7.4 percent in 2011, a positive sign for the state of the line. However, NCCI said the combined ratio for the workers’ comp line has been at an unsustainable level of 115 for the past two years.

NCCI’s 2012 update on workers’ compensation claims frequency was authored by Jim Davis. Key findings include:

2011 Overall Trends
  • Prior to the 2010 uptick of three percent, claim frequency had been declining at an average rate of more than four percent per year since 1990. According to preliminary estimates, lost-time claim frequency once again declined in 2011 by one percent.
  • For indemnity and medical combined, the average cost per lost-time claim increased 3.2 percent in 2011.
Frequency Per Payroll vs. Per Premium
  • Claim frequency measured relative to payroll (frequency per payroll) varies far more by class than frequency measured relative to premium (frequency per premium).
  • Hence, changes in industry mix typically have a greater impact on frequency per payroll than on frequency per premium measures.
  • The decline in the construction industry resulting from the recession put downward pressure on frequency per payroll and upward pressure on frequency per premium.

Source: NCCI Holdings

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