As expected, the state Insurance Commission has voted to raise rates for worker compensation.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance recommended a 6.4 percent increase at a Dec. 15 hearing saying that's what it will take to cover the increased benefits ordered by the 1999 Nevada Legislature.
A Las Vegas insurance agent and a lobbyist representing construction subcontractors in Nevada protested that officials don't even know if the existing rates for the newly privatized worker compensation system are accurate.
But the commission agreed that the increase is justified.
"The increase in rates proposed by the advisory organization is a direct response to benefit level changes enacted by the Nevada legislature," the commission order states, adding that the increase will ensure that anticipated expenses are covered in the system.
The rates are the so-called "transition rates" as worker compensation moves into an unregulated private market instead of the state providing worker coverage as a monopoly.
The transition plan will, over the next few years, give the private insurance market more and more freedom to set its own rates for the coverage, which all businesses must provide to workers.
The most expensive of the changes made by the 1999 Legislature was in an increase to what injured workers can get from permanent partial disability awards. Other changes extended the maximum amount of time workers can get rehabilitation benefits and allow them to seek more compensation for subsequent, off-the-job injuries stemming from the original on-the-job injury.
State law required the new rates to be set by Jan 1. The order implementing the 6.4 percent increase was signed by hearing officer James Jeppson and Insurance Commissioner Alice Molasky-Arman Dec. 17.