Workers’ compensation insurance costs are directly tied to the classifications assigned to a business. An employer may be forced to pay more in premiums if the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) or insurance carrier incorrectly assigns a more expensive classification.
While the Insurance Commissioner relies on the WCIRB to develop classification rules, RPNA recently succeeded in overturning two WCIRB classification assignments. And it did so after a hearing in front of an administrative law judge assigned by the Insurance Commissioner.
“We are very pleased with the decision. Judge John H. Larsen thoroughly examined the facts, issues, evidence, and applicable provisions of the Uniform Statistical Reporting Plan (USRP). The decision was the right one and came after a hard fought and contentious battle with the WCIRB,” said RPNA Senior Attorney David Ginsburg, who tried the case.
The parties disputed the classification assignments for parking lot grading and parking lot marking operations. The WCIRB assigned parking lot grading to the land grading classification and parking lot marking to the painting classification. RPNA argued that parking lot grading should be assigned to street and road grading, and that parking lot marking operations should be assigned to street and road construction.
RPNA argued that the WCIRB’s classification assignments did not follow “assignment by analogy” rules and did not comport with the objective of the classification system. The WCIRB countered that its classification assignments followed the USRP, and that it had historically applied the classifications in this manner.
Senior Partner Nick Roxborough, who oversaw the case, commented “I wanted to emphasize the actual operations that our client was engaged in. By clearly presenting our client’s activities, we were able to show that the classifications assigned by the WCIRB did not accurately reflect our client’s operations.”
RPNA was brought in by its client after an initial evidentiary hearing. RPNA then sought discovery and prepared for a second evidentiary hearing. There, the parties presented evidence, and questioned and cross-examined witnesses. After a round of post-trial briefing, the Judge Larsen sided with RPNA and its client, and reversed the decision of the WCIRB and Insurance Company of the West (ICW).
“While we would prefer to work with the WCIRB to resolve classification disputes, the WCIRB may sometimes be unwilling to re-examine the issues. The outcome of this case shows that an employer can succeed against the WCIRB, even if the odds appear to be stacked against the employer,” explained RPNA’s David Ginsburg. “Very few law firms handle these types of disputes. One of RPNA’s strengths is its knowledge of classification rules and its history of advocating for our clients in classification disputes.”
RPNA helps employers successfully fight and resolve disputes over workers’ compensation insurance premiums, audits, classification codes, experience modifications, and other rating issues that impact workers compensation insurance premiums.
Please contact Nicholas Roxborough or David Ginsburg at (818) 992-9999 If you have issues concerning classifications, or feel the WCIRB or your insurance carrier may have assigned an inaccurate classification. RPNA can evaluate the matter and assess if you have a valid basis to challenge the classification.