Iowa employers, the state workers’ comp authorities would like you to know that you enjoy some of the lowest workers’ comp rates in the entire country. As you all know, workers’ comp is a state by state thing, and depending on how a state’s laws are set up and what sort of insurance companies are in the state, if any, that can determine how much employees pay when it comes to buying insurance that protects them and their employees when one of their workers gets hurt or sick on the job.
The Iowa authorities are getting their figures from a report put out by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, which compares Oregon rates in workers’ comp insurance with the rates found in the 49 other states and Washington DC. According to the figures coming out of Oregon, Iowa looks to have one of the lowest rates for insurance premiums out of the 51 communities—in fact it is the seventh lowest in the country, with only six other states having lower premiums.
The officials premium rate in Iowa is calculated to be at $1/75 per $100 that every employers pays out in payroll. It is also lower than any of the states that border Iowa when it comes to workers’ comp premiums.
Iowa claims that the reason for their lower workers’ comp premiums is because the state workers’ comp system is fair and unbiased, and that it can resolve disputers and enforce all of the state regulations without having to pick between insurance companies and employers, or employers and employees. The state also claims in its official statement on the Oregon report to be big on educating both employers and employees about the state workers’ comp system and how to improve safety at the work site.
Here’s good news for employers and workers alike. The Iowa workers’ compensation rates are nearly the lowest in the nations. And, the good news comes from an unlikely source. The state of Oregon recently publicized the comprehensive “2006 Oregon Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking Summary”. The publication compares the premium rates for workers’ compensation amongst all 51 jurisdictions (the 50 states plus the District of Columbia) in the United States.
“I am pleased to report that Iowa employers continue to see improvement in the workers’ compensation premium rates, especially as compared to our neighboring states,” indicated Chris J. Godfrey. Godfrey’s title is a real mouthful: Interim Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.
According to this exhaustive report, Iowa has one of the lowest rates for workers’ compensation premium. Only ix other states have a lower workers’ compensation premium rate than the state of Iowa. Iowa’s premium rates were also found to be lower than all the adjoining states including Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Dakota and Kansas.
Iowa ranking has improved from last year, as well. In 2006, Iowa ranked 45th among lowest premiums compared to 43rd the prior year. Iowa’s premium rate for workers’ compensation coverage is $1.75 per $100.00 of payroll.
Added Godfrey, “Businesses have every incentive to locate or expand in Iowa when they consider the low cost of workers’ compensation insurance in our state. Our premium rates are consistently amongst the lowest in the nation and Iowa’s rates are lower than our bordering states which is important in retaining and attracting new businesses.”
The workers’ compensation system in Iowa provides a fair and unbiased system for adjudicating disputed claims, enforcing compliance standards and educating Iowans and businesses about workers’ compensation laws and procedures. “Iowa has a proud tradition of protecting injured workers’ with a quality workers’ compensation system. It is encouraging that our workers’ compensation system protects injured workers while maintaining some of the lowest premiums in the nation. Iowans can be very proud of their workers’ compensation system,” stated Interim Commissioner Godfrey.
Reporting on all injuries is an important part of following the law in Iowa for workers’ comp. The regulations call for every employer in the state of Iowa, in fact, to keep a record of all injuries, whether they’re fatal, serious or minor, or whether they are real or just alleged by the employee. The cut off for injuries that have to be reported, though, are injuries that cause an employee to be incapacitated and out of work for at least a day.
If the employee doesn’t return to work after three days after the injury, then you have to file a report of the injury with the state workers’ comp commissioner within four days of after that. The same is true if the injury is completely serious and either permanently incapacitates the employee or kills them. In that case, as soon as you learn of the severity of the injury, then you have four days to report it to the state workers’ comp commish.
A key for employers who have to make this sort of report in the state of Iowa is to try to stay as impartial as possible. That means that the state asks all employers when making these reports not to slant their report against the employee and in favor of the insurance company. And whatever is in the report will not be used against any party in a court of law or in any meetings with the commissioner, as evidence or otherwise.
That’s a lot of paper work that an employer must process even for a minor injury, whether it’s a stubbed toe, a nicked finger, all the way up to a lost limb or a fall from one floor of your warehouse to the next. But using the right forms will steer you clear of trouble with the workers’ comp commissioner, who can fine you up to $1000 for each time you fail to report an injury.
Welcome to corn husking country. And welcome to another installment of our exploration of the different workers’ comp programs across the United States of America. In Iowa, as in most other states we have looked at and will look at in the future, the law on the books for workers’ comp requires that most employers provide workers’ comp coverage for their eligible employees.
Workers’ comp coverage in Iowa also covers a broader definition of “injury” under their workers’ comp law than perhaps we have seen in other states. In Iowa, an injury can be anything that involves a health impairment, other than what is considered the normal growth and break down of body tissue. What’s more, the injury must happen because of activities related to the job. But if some sort of disease or hearing loss came from these job activities, then they are also considered “injuries” and require workers’ comp coverage to kick in.
On the other hand, in Iowa, any injury or illness that existed beforehand doesn’t get workers’ comp coverage. The only time it does—and this is a big “but”—is when workplace activities aggravate the pre-existing injury or illness.
If such an aggravation, or a new injury or illness takes place, under Iowa law the employer gets to choose the medical care provider that the employee gets. The care though must be suited within reason to treat the injured workers’ problem. And if the employee doesn’t think this is the case, they can take it up with the employer, the insurance company, and even the state commissioner.
When it comes to which employees in the state of Iowa get these benefits, Iowa throws a broad blanket over this subject as well. Basically, most employees are entitled to workers’ comp, as long as they are working under a contract of hire made in Iowa and most of their work is done in the state.