JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri businesses could face significantly higher costs for workers' compensation insurance next year.
An organization that projects workers' compensation insurance costs is forecasting that Missouri insurers will see an 11.6 percent increase in their claim costs in 2014. The projections by the National Council on Compensation Insurance often are used by insurance companies to set the premiums charged to businesses.
The increase is driven partly by a new Missouri law that seeks to shore up a financially troubled fund for disabled workers who suffer additional on-the-job injuries. The law shifts some types of claims out of the Second Injury Fund and into traditional workers' compensation insurance.
Businesses also could face a higher surcharge - on top of their regular workers' compensation premiums - to help replenish the Second Injury Fund.
Senators gave initial approval Tuesday night to a bill that would raise fees on businesses and narrow the type of future injuries covered by the Second Injury Fund. The fund has a $25 million deficit, which is expected to grow unless lawmakers take action.
The Second Injury Fund was created 70 years ago to cover disabled employees who suffer a second work-related injury or illness.
The legislation also seeks to reverse recent court rulings that concluded occupational diseases are not required to be covered by the workers' compensation system. The bill says they are, and it sets limits on how much money can be awarded for exposure to toxins like asbestos.