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The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California has released its quarterly update on California statewide insurer experience valued as of June 30, 2019.

Highlights of the report include:

— California written premium through the second calendar quarter of 2019 is 7 percent below the same period for 2018, suggesting that the 2019 premium decrease will also be significant. This is the third consecutive year of premium decreases.
The average charged rate for the first six months of 2019 is 10 percent below that for 2018 and 32 percent below the peak in 2014. The WCIRB recently proposed a further 5% decrease in advisory pure premium rates for January 1, 2020.
— The WCIRB projects the ultimate accident year loss ratio for 2018 to be four points above that for accident year 2017, driven by higher claim severities for 2018 and lower premium rates.
— The 90 percent combined loss and expense ratio projected for accident year 2018 represents the sixth consecutive year of combined ratios below 100 percent. Combined ratios below 100 percent are one indicator of a healthy workers’ compensation system.
The ratio for the percent of open indemnity claims closed in the next year increased in each of the last six years and in 2019 is the highest ratio since 1999.
Cumulative trauma (CT) claim rates continue to increase in accident year 2017, and the ratio of CT claims to all indemnity claims has increased by more than 80 percent since accident year 2005.
— The projected total loss and allocated loss adjustment expense claim severity for accident year 2018 is 5 percent higher than that for accident year 2017, following several years of modest declines in claim severities.
Medical service costs per claim decreased 17% from 2012 to 2015, primarily driven by a 23% decrease in the number of transactions per claim. Overall medical cost levels have been relatively flat since 2015.
Pharmaceutical costs per claim decreased 80% from 2012 to 2018. These reductions have been driven by SB 863’s independent medical review and independent bill review, reduced utilization of opioids, changes to Medi-Cal reimbursement rates and the new drug formulary.
The number of liens filed in the first two quarters of 2019 are more than 60% below pre-SB 1160 and AB 1244 levels.

The full report is available in the Research section of the WCIRB website and linked below: