So, the American Insurance Association has just thrown a public hissy fit over new proposed legislation here in Illinois, legislation that would require insurance companies to file with state regulators their rates for Workers Compensation insurance before said insurance companies could use those rates on policies. Theoretically, insurance regulators could then object to rates they found objectionable.
“It's the harshest and most opposed regulatory type of structure that I have ever seen because we are going to have to seek permission from the government to charge a final price on the workers compensation insurance that we provide to our customers,” Steve Schneider, Chicago-based vice president for state affairs for the Midwest region for the American Insurance Association, said in published reports.
Holy Cow? Really? Mind you, the new laws would not really prevent insurers from using whatever rates they want, because the Illinois Department of Insurance is pretty understaffed, thanks to the deliberate behind-scenes lobbying by the insurance industry years ago.
And actually regulating Workers Compensation insurance rates was the norm, the standard practice, for many decades. To quote one of my older insurance textbooks (from 1986):
"the regulatory review process verifies that insurance rates are adequate, not excessive, and not unfairly discriminatory."
Until the late 1970's and early 1980's, all insurance companies had to use the same exact damned rate schedule, which had to be approved in advance by insurance regulators who, you know, actually regulated insurance. To make sure that rates were adequate, not excessive, and not unfairly discriminatory. What a quaint idea!
Even once so-called "competitive rating" began, insurance companies had to still submit their rating plans for approval. So this ridiculously over-the-top response by the insurance industry to these new Illinois regulations strike this observer as, well, ridiculous. This new legislation would merely return, on paper, the conceptual framework that governed Workers Compensation from its earliest days
Relax, boys, you'll still be able to get away with charging whatever you think the market will bear. This new legislation provides merely the smallest fig leaf on the current unregulated status of Workers Compensation. It doesn't really do anything meaningful, more's the pity. But even a tiny fig leaf is enough for the insurance industry to react like someone's proposing to erect a monument to Joe Stalin in Hartford, Connecticut and send their underwriters to re-education camps.