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NM firms may get break on workers comp rates

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico employers could see lower workers compensation rates based on the latest recommendations from the national organization that analyzes claim trends.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance is recommending a 6.2 percent reduction in the average workers compensation premium rate statewide across all industries for 2016.

“What this doesn’t mean is that every employer will see a 6.2 percent rate decrease, but individual company rates will, depending on their claims experience,” said Norm Becker, president and CEO of New Mexico Mutual which has about 33 percent of the workers compensation market in New Mexico.

The National Council is a Florida-based nonprofit that the state Insurance Superintendent’s office hires to analyze rates and make recommendations annually and most of the companies who handle workers compensation in New Mexico follow those recommendations Becker said.

The National Council’s study noted that losses — specifically the liability incurred for claims costing more than $500,000 — totaled $12 million in 2013, down from $33 million the previous year.

Employers have seen rate increases in the last five years, but the cost of claims are going down. It appears employers are creating safer working environments, Becker said.

New Mexico Mutual runs training courses to teach employers how to practice safety in the workplace.

New Mexico has the 20th highest workers compensation premiums in the country, according to a study released in February by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. Becker ventured that may be related to the state’s relatively large amount of oil and gas industry activity, which typically has higher claims than white collar industries.