06/16/2003 11:00PM

Workers' comp to rise 12%


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Thoroughbred trainers in California participating in an industry-backed insurance policy will face a 12-percent increase in workers' compensation costs when policies are renewed July 1, according to Ed Halpern, the executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers.

Halpern said the CTT has received quotes from the American Insurance Group for renewals that go into effect with the new fiscal year. Halpern said that trainers will pay base rates of $35.09 per $100 of payroll and $104.24 per jockey's mount before discounts for experience are included. The discounts will lower rates in the payroll category to near $30 for many trainers, with some paying even less.

Meetings were scheduled late Tuesday and Wednesday to finalize the plan with AIG, Halpern said. "My hope is we'll have it in place by the end of the week," he said.

Trainers that have policies with the Government-backed State Fund will face more substantial increases, Halpern said. Those rates have not been announced, Halpern said, and may not be until after July 1.

Halpern expects many trainers with State Fund policies to switch to AIG to cut costs.

Escalating costs for workers' compensation insurance has reached crisis level in California. To reduce costs, some stables have left the state, some horsemen are sending divisions to other states, and others are cutting back on the number of horses they have in training. The workers' compensation costs have affected all of the state's businesses.

Tuesday, California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi toured the Hollywood Park backstretch for two hours with Halpern and other racing executives, listening to the concerns of horsemen. Garamendi met several trainers, including Hall of Famers Ron McAnally and Richard Mandella.

Garamendi, who toured several other businesses in the Los Angeles area Tuesday to discuss workers' compensation insurance, has introduced several pieces of legislation designed to reduce workers' compensation costs, but none has reached a vote.