Quick Look at Workers’ Comp Results - NCCI’s State of the Line
As with other recent meetings, this year’s Annual Issues Symposium was held virtually. Workers’ Comp finished year-end 2019 with good results and in a strong reserve position; however, there is uncertainty ahead as every aspect of the line is likely to be impacted.
Despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the economy, the presentations, organized by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), maintained that the Workers’ Comp system is healthy and well-positioned to respond effectively.
In fact, the last two years have seen the lowest combined ratios for Workers’ Comp since the 1930s! The Calendar Year 2019 combined ratio of 85% for private carriers is the sixth consecutive year that Workers’ Comp has posted an underwriting gain, and the third consecutive year under 90%.
Lost-time claim frequency continues to decline, with a 4% drop in 2019, countering the theory that 2018’s decrease of just 1.4% signalled upward movement for this indicator. Direct written premium fell by 2.6%. However, total Workers’ Comp premium volume is expected to decline further in 2020 due to the rise in unemployment.
Responding to concerns about expanding presumption laws and the effects of the economic slowdown expressed by stakeholders during the symposium, NCCI President and CEO Bill Donnell said he is inspired by participants’ continued commitment to the mission of Workers’ Comp and their focus on the needs of employers and injured workers. Addressing the pandemic’s impact on the industry, he pointed out that the Workers’ Comp sector entered the crisis from a position of financial strength, particularly considering the 2019 year-end results.
Mr. Donnell pointed to our improved ability to navigate unexpected events through better access to and analysis of data to help direct our focus. One example is how COVID-19 has advanced the use of telemedicine - lower costs for the payer, higher volume for the provider, and convenience for the patient.
As businesses gradually reopen across the country, Gen Re shares Mr. Donnell’s confidence that the Workers’ Comp industry is up to the challenge. But the industry also needs to look beyond this crisis and into the decade ahead.
Commitment and preparation for the long-term means strengthening core underwriting, claim handling, and reserving functions. It also means being watchful, open-minded, and adaptive to new technology and efficiencies. While the solid results of 2019 have been overshadowed by the COVID-19 crisis, the fundamentals still apply.
At Gen Re, we’re ready to work with you on these imperatives, regardless of what tomorrow brings. Please feel free to reach out; we’d love to chat with you.