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Ohio employers to receive $1.5B in comp dividends

Ohio employers may receive as much as $1.5 billion in dividends from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation after the agency earned strong returns on its investments, according to a news release from the office of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

The BWC earned $1.3 billion in net investment income in 2018, a net return of 5.1% on assets of $26.9 billion, the agency reported.

"Our investment portfolio is strong, our injury claims are falling, and our safety and wellness initiatives are making a difference," said Stephanie McCloud, BWC’s administrator and CEO in the release. "All of these actions mean big savings for employers, and we’re delighted to share this success with them."

Like most states, Ohio law requires businesses to carry workers comp, but under the state’s program, premiums are invested in the fund that supports injured worker claims, and when investment returns are favorable, the BWC shares a portion of the investments with qualifying employers. The $1.5 billion dividend equals 88% of the premiums employers paid for the policy year ending June 30, 2018 (calendar year 2017 for public employers).

Workers comp costs in Ohio have been on a downward trend, and the BWC has repeatedly lowered premium rates, including a 12% cut for public employers that took effect in January and a 20% reduction for private employers that begins July 1. The agency disbursed $1 billion or more to employers in 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018. It also distributed $15 million in 2016 for public employers.

The $1.5 billion divestiture includes money for public employers, with about $114 million expected to go to local governments and $50 million to public schools.

The BWC, which insures roughly 242,000 public and private employers, said it has saved employers nearly $10 billion in workers compensation costs through dividends, credits, rate reductions and greater efficiencies since 2011.