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WSI: Workers' comp premiums lowest in nation

BISMARCK -- Workforce Safety and Insurance said Tuesday that North Dakota has again been ranked as having the lowest workers' compensation premiums in the country.

WSI said it is the fourth time in a row that the study has found North Dakota is the lowest cost. The national study is undertaken every two years by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

WSI said premium rates range from a low of $1.08 per $100 of payroll in North Dakota to a high of $3.97 in Alaska.

"This is great news," said Bruce Furness, interim executive director and CEO at WSI. "With the cooperation of the past 15 years, along with the strategic decisions may by our board of directors, we have come a long way."

In the mid-1990s, WSI, then known as the Workers Compensation Bureau, had a deficit. Legislators made many changes in benefits in 1993-97 that erased the deficit. The agency now has a large surplus.

It's the workers who have suffered as a result, said North Dakota AFL-CIO President Dave Kemnitz of Bismarck.

"WSI, through 15 years of legislation cooperation -- some would say collusion -- effectively tipped the scales of justice against seriously injured workers and their families," he said. "Which contributed substantially to the lowest workers' compensation premiums in the nation."