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Dramatic drop in Delaware’s workers comp. premiums

Delaware saw the greatest decline in workers’ compensation insurance premiums over the last few years, thanks to a cooperative effort by state lawmakers and then-Insurance Commissioner Matt Denn.

Denn, now Delaware’s Lieutenant Governor, says the major reduction in costs was a two-part effort.  As Insurance Commissioner, Denn ordered a series of rate reductions after deciding that insurance companies were charging higher premiums for business customers than their costs called for.  

The second step was a cooperative effort by lawmakers in the General Assembly that allowed the state to hold down medical costs connected to injuries on the job.  Denn credits the leadership of former State Rep. Bill Oberle (R) and current State Senator Anthony Deluca (D) with helping reduce costs.  “They basically did what people aren’t supposed to be able to do in this country anymore: they spent months working with each other, negotiating in an atmosphere of trust, making their arguments, but also making concessions when appropriate, Democrats and Republicans, representatives from business and labor and the medical community and the legal community, and they came to an agreement,” Denn said.  “And in 2007, they changed our state’s worker’s compensation law in basically fundamental ways.

In 2006, Delaware had the nation’s third highest workers compensation insurance premiums.  But after enacting the changes, Delaware’s rate dropped to 34th highest in the nation, according to the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

The lower insurance premiums are a big selling point for businesses considering moving to Delaware.  President of the State Chamber of Commerce James Wolfe says, “All the business community sees is increases in rates, not only for health care, but for all the things that it takes for them to be a survivor in this climate that we have.  To have us take this on years ago, it was one of the major bottlenecks for businesses coming into the state,” Wolfe says.  “That’s what it’s all about, is bringing businesses here in the state of Delaware.”

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