It’s your money – get it back, by enrolling in retro program

Every employer should know about Labor & Industries retrospective rating, safety incentive programs

Avaly Scarpelli

This time of year is like Christmas in the summertime for BIA members who are enrolled in our retrospective rating program called R.O.I.I. Select. Many of them just received very large rebate checks. In fact, 33 percent received more than $10,000 back on their L&I premiums.

So what is a Retrospective Rating group (Retro) and how can it help your business? Retro is a safety incentive program offered by Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) that creates financial rewards for companies who reduce the frequency of injuries and the severity of their cost. A Retro group receives refunds when the group’s premiums exceed their losses.

Any employer with an industrial insurance account in good standing can participate in the Retro program. You can participate as an individual employer or as part of an association-sponsored group. Groups typically have better refund potential because they have a larger premium total and the risk is spread over a larger pool of companies.

Another distinct advantage to joining a group program is the services that they can provide your business to help you get claims closed quickly. Closing claims quickly is the key to keeping costs down for your business. For example, the Building Industry Association of Washington’s (BIAW) R.O.I.I. Select program offers several return to work options like on-the-job retraining, kept-on-salary and a retraining assistance program, that provide better outcomes for all parties involved. The Washington Retail Association’s Retro program tailors safety training to their members’ businesses and just received a grant to develop an app for young workers on safety that will arm them with an understanding of basic skills needed to stay safe before they hit the retail floor.

The great news for businesses in Clark County is that there are many associations statewide that provide group Retro programs to a wide variety of businesses. Whether you operate in agriculture, hospitality, manufacturing, health care, transportation, grocery, retail or construction, you can access Retro programs through associations in our state. There are several other business categories beyond what I’ve mentioned, as well. You can find a full listing of Retro Associations on the L&I website ( However, it’s buried quite deep so I recommend just typing “Retro Associations” into their search box.

In our association, 93 percent of the members enrolled in our Retro program received a check that exceeded their membership dues. Not only are these members covering their cost to join forces with other like-minded businesses and advocate more effectively for their issues, most members are putting money in their pocket this year.

Vancouver-based Harlen’s Drywall has participated in the BIA’s Retro program for more than 20 years. Because of their safe operating practices they have received about 40 percent of their L&I premiums back.

“Participating in R.O.I.I. Select has contributed positively to our bottom line,” shared Tim Hiller, president of Harlen’s Drywall. “I encourage the business community of Southwest Washington to find a Retro program and get enrolled. This program is really about helping employers of all industries with their safety training and creates a safer working environment for everyone.”

It’s important to note that if a group’s claim costs in a given year are higher than the premiums paid then your company would owe an additional amount, called an assessment. For this reason, it’s important to do your homework on the Retro group you are looking to join and ask them about their history. For example, the top four Retro programs in the state insure 53 percent of the 12,585 workers that are enrolled in retrospective programs statewide. That’s a very large pool to spread risk across, and these programs are unlikely to experience large losses. Groups that have just a few companies enrolled are more susceptible to dipping in the red if one or more of their companies endures a high accident year.

Retro programs are your biggest tool for lowering the amount of money that L&I keeps from your business. If you are not already gaining the advantages of Retro, I encourage you to find an association that represents your business and learn about their retrospective ratings program.

When you cash your refund check, you’ll be glad you took the time to enroll!

Avaly Scarpelli is the executive director of the Building Industry Association of Clark County.