A critical review of literature on experience rating in workers’ compensation systems

Liz Mansfield, Institute for Work & Health, Toronto, Canada


Objective: This study reviewed the English-language, peer-reviewed literature on experience rating and critically examined the framing of research questions, methodology selection, study findings, the interpretation of results and underlying logic. Two main questions were addressed: What is known about how experience rating motivates employer and worker behaviour? What is known about how experience rating affects workplace health and safety?

Methods: Researchers conducted a comprehensive search of quantitative and qualitative literature on experience rating and claims management. Studies were appraised on several key characteristics (e.g. central objective, relevance), study quality (e.g. study design, interpretation of results) and experience rating findings (e.g. how it motivates stakeholders, other health and safety incentives, and cost-shifting).

Results: While some qualitative studies considered claims management, few focused directly on the topic of experience rating. Several of the qualitative studies did not adequately theorize the power relations, socioeconomic context and politics of experience rating. Many of the quantitative studies were based on simplified understandings of human behaviours and made substantial conclusions from proxy measures used in statistical models. Several studies aggregated data across multiple jurisdictions and paid little attention to the variety of contextual details.

Conclusion: This review found that the social and economic logic of experience rating, as well as the effects of its implementation, is an important and neglected subject in occupational safety and health research. There is still much to be learned about the topic.

Authors: Liz Mansfield, Ellen MacEachen, Emile Tompa, Christina Kalcevich, Marion Endicott and Natalie Yeung

Reference: A critical review of literature on experience rating in workers' compensation systems. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 2012; 10(1):3-25



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