State Fund Cuts Work Comp Premiums 20 Percent

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Montana businesses will pay an average of 20 percent less for workers’ compensation insurance after July 1.

The Montana State Fund’s board of directors unanimously approved the reduction Friday for the 23,000 employers covered by the fund, Lee Newspapers of Montana reported.

The cuts are the most significant seen in Montana since the 1990s and bring Montana’s rates closer to the regional average, said Montana State Fund President and CEO Laurence Hubbard.

Some premium rate changes may be more or less than the 20 percent average reduction, he said.

The premium rate decreases follow legislation aimed at lowering Montana’s workers’ compensation rates by trimming benefits to workers and cutting costs in other areas. The state’s workers’ compensation rates are widely seen as the most expensive in the country.

“This is the result we had hoped for when we led efforts to reform workers’ compensation,” said Jon Bennion, government public relations director for the Montana Chamber of Commerce. “We expect these reductions are just the start of savings Montana businesses will see in the years to come.”

Rep. Scott Reichner, R-Bigfork, who sponsored the workers’ compensation overhaul bill, was pleased by the news.

“I think 20 percent is a great start the first year beginning July 1,” Reichner said. “There will be additional savings in the next two to three years. People that watch workers’ comp across the country say Montana has made the most sweeping changes in the country with this legislation.”

The reductions are good for business, Hubbard said.

“The expectation is that this is going to stimulate economic activity in Montana, make the business environment more welcoming in Montana and over time it will create more jobs,” Hubbard said.

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