Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced that Vermont businesses will see another rate decrease in workers’ compensation insurance in 2021. This is the fifth straight year workers’ compensation rates have decreased, and when combined with decreases from 2017-2020, Vermont employers will pay an average of 36% less in workers’ compensation premiums than they did in 2016.
“As we work to grow the economy and size of our workforce, addressing the high cost of doing business in Vermont is critical,” said Governor Scott. “A major expense for Vermont businesses has been workers’ compensation insurance, so I’m proud that we’ve been able to reduce these costs annually, without reducing benefits for workers. These savings will help Vermont employers of all sizes hire more workers, increase salaries and expand their operations in our state.”
“It is very encouraging that Vermont continues its streak of workers’ compensation premium decreases even during the unprecedented times brought on by COVID-19,” said Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) Commissioner Michael Pieciak. “Vermont businesses have seen unparalleled challenges this year as they try to keep their employees safe while remaining open for business and I am pleased to see these efforts pay off with a continued reduction in rates.”
DFR has issued several recent orders to help Vermont businesses with the significant challenges brought on by COVID-19. Specifically, the Department has:
Prevented businesses’ from experiencing a premium increase if they have a COVID-19 related workers’ compensation claim as any claims related to this once-in-a-century event would not accurately predict the safety of a workplace or the future claim costs for an employer;
Ordered premium relief for employers who paid furloughed employees during the pandemic since furloughed workers do not present workers’ compensation risk to the employer; and
Excluded any payments under the Front-Line Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program from being included in the calculation of premiums, thereby removing any financial barriers for employers to participate in the program and avoiding $2 million cumulative increase that would have otherwise occurred.
In the voluntary market – which is the open competitive market - loss costs (the primary component of workers’ compensation rates) will decrease by an average of 5.5%. Approximately 90% of Vermont employers receive voluntary market coverage. In the assigned risk market – which is the market for employers unable to obtain coverage in the voluntary market - rates will also decrease by an average of 4.6%. The continued rate relief in the assigned risk market is particularly good news for new businesses who are often forced to obtain coverage in this market due to lack of claims history.
These rate changes will vary by industry and classification, however, several key Vermont industries with historically high rates will continue to see rate reductions in 2021. Vermont’s logging industry will see rate reductions between 3 and 12 percent, the skiing industry will see rate reductions up to 7 percent and the dairy farming industry will see rate relief between 3 and 12 percent.
The new rates, approved by the Department of Financial Regulation, become effective on April 1, 2021.
The Governor and Commissioner Pieciak recognize the diligent work of the Department of Financial Regulation team that oversees the rate approval process, including Deputy Commissioner Kevin Gaffney, Rosemary Raszka, Pat Murray and Jessica Sherpa.