Hager Hails Big Gains In W.C. Business But Says Struggle To Heal Troubled System Far From Over.

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ORLANDO, Fla., /PRNewswire/--Despite major strengthening of state workers' compensation systems, the struggle to heal troubled systems is far from over, the chief executive officer of the nation's largest workers' compensation statistical, research and data collection organization said here April 20.

Referring to the largest single-year drop in combined ratio in workers' compensation history--from 121.5 in 1992 to 109.5 in 1993--William D. Hager, president of the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. (NCCI), cautioned that "while the decrease is encouraging, we can't let down our guard. With system costs inflating at about 6 percent a year, if insurance commissioners block increases for just this year and next year, combined ratios in the 120s will return swiftly."

Hager was addressing approximately 500 executives from insurance companies, state funds, state legislatures, regulatory departments and other organizations at NCCI's 1994 annual meeting and issue symposium.

The 109.5 combined ratio--the best financial result for the workers' compensation insurance industry in nearly a decade--was the result of reform efforts, more adequate loss costs, greater emphasis on workplace safety and aggressive anti-fraud efforts, he pointed out.

"If the system is working better, a key contributor has been reform efforts across the country," Hager said, paying tribute to "those states that have tackled this issue head on and have been willing to lake on. what Shakespeare called the 'caterpillars of the commonwealth,' those silent predators who have been dining too long and too well on the workers' compensation vine."

He singled out Connecticut, Kansas, Alabama, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky as states that have enacted significant reforms. Hager said some states "still need big-time reform," citing Tennessee and Missouri as examples.

In a review of the impact of the national health insurance proposals on workers' compensation, Hager called on members of Congress to carefully consider how their ideas will affect participants in...

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