The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) held a public meeting yesterday to address a steep 19.6 percent NCCI proposed rate hike in that state due to a group of Florida Supreme Court decisions. Lori Lovgren of NCCI testified primarily on the Castellanos decision invalidating the state’s attorney fee schedule for workers’ comp cases, saying that the organization could not afford to take a “wait and see attitude” on the “behavioral changes” that might result from the decision and that carriers were already reporting “high low fee agreements” in pending settlements and other issues related to the new standard.
Several parties spoke against the proposed filing, including attorney Richard Chait, Chair of the workers’ comp section of the Florida Justice Association and Steve Alexander, a representative of Florida Workers’ Advocates and formerly employed by the OIR as an actuary. Chait stated that the rate hike is “essentially an admission that there’s an intention to wrongfully deny benefits” and that Castellanos will be a “great equalizer.” Alexander testified on the actuarial merit of the filing, calling it “misleading and deceptive because it is based on the premise that [NCCI] can separate the attorney fee portion from the rest of the [Florida SB 50A] reforms of 2003.” In particular, Alexander was unconvinced that NCCI’s use of the 2008 Emma Murray decision aftermath (in which some attorneys returned to hourly fees for workers’ comp cases) could apply to present situation.
Public comments on the filing will be accepted until August 23rd. The rate hike, if approved, is set to go into effect on October 1st, 2016. Access archived video of the meeting here.