We’re not insurance experts, and we don’t play ones on TV. We’re insurance premium payers like most of you. We aren’t sure of the voodoo involved with calculating the risk and rates associated with our home, vehicle and business insurance rates.
But there are some basics we get.
When fewer people claim compensation for injuries that keep them from working, rates should go down. When rules are lax and foster abuse or extra claims, rates go up.
Illinois employers in 2014 paid the seventh highest premiums in the nation. A recent report from the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission trumpeted that as an improvement — we were fourth-highest just a few years earlier but they linked the drop to modest reforms state lawmakers enacted in 2011.
Yes, they tightened a system that handed out $1.5 million to 55 Menard prison workers who “hurt” themselves mainly opening cell doors. But they failed to make the substantive changes that would bring us to the middle of the pack, where our neighboring states are: Missouri at 21st, Wisconsin 23rd, Iowa 24th and Indiana 50th. Those are the same states pulling away our employers or attracting new ones.
By the way, government workers are still twice as likely as construction workers and coal miners to get hurt on the job in Illinois. Wonder who replaced those Menard guards on the gravy train to the land of entitlement?
And Illinois still lets you claim workers comp if you hurt yourself playing soccer or bowling on the weekend and even slightly aggravate it at work, making your employer 100 percent liable for the injury pay. Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed that a job must be more than 50 percent to blame for the injury and that standard would rank Illinois as 29th in premiums. Our main competitor for employers, Missouri, mandates that threshold.
Seems like a fair way to treat workers, and a standard that will help make us a competitive job-growing state where revenue increases can lighten the tax burdens. Doesn’t sound like a “race to the bottom” or insult to the working man to us, as those in control of the Illinois House and Senate claim.
Turn it around, folks. Workers comp reform is an important step.