How to Read an Experience Modification Worksheet

September 28, 2023 · Commercial Lines

Blog How to Read an Experience Modification Worksheet

The experience modification worksheet, a critical tool in workers' compensation insurance, plays a pivotal role in assessing a company's safety record and influencing insurance premiums. This article provides a comprehensive overview of its elements, highlighting the significance of accurate data and its impact on a business's financial incentives for safety improvements. Understanding these components is essential for effective cost management and safer workplaces.

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An experience modification worksheet, often referred to as an experience rating worksheet or experience mod worksheet, is
important in workers’ compensation insurance. When a company receives an experience rating, it is accompanied by an
experience modifier.

This experience modifier is a numerical multiplier applied to the annual premium, which can either increase or decrease the
premium amount. Its primary function is to calculate a business’s experience modification rating (EMR), a numeric factor used
to adjust insurance premiums based on the company’s historical record of workplace injuries and claims.

The experience modification worksheet allows both employers and insurers to evaluate and manage workplace safety,
ultimately leading to fair and appropriate insurance premiums and safer working environments. This article provides an
overview of the experience modification worksheet and delves into its elements.

Experience Modification Worksheet Overview

An experience modification worksheet serves as a repository of crucial workers’ compensation claims data, providing details on
injury dates, types, claim payments and estimated future costs.

This data underpins the assessment of a company’s safety record and claims experience. Worksheets can look different
depending on what rating bureau applies to the employer.

It is important to understand that the state a company is located in will determine how the modifier will be calculated. Some
states use the National Council of Compensation Insurance (NCCI), and other states use independent rating bureaus that are
created by the state statutes. States that are NCCI states will have their modifier calculated by the NCCI. States that are not
NCCI states will have their modifier calculated by the rating bureau the state appoints to do so.

By comparing actual losses to expected losses derived from industry standards, the worksheet helps determine whether a
business’s claims history is better or worse than the industry average. This EMR, once calculated, directly influences the cost of
workers’ compensation coverage. With an EMR of 1.0 as the baseline, businesses with lower EMRs may enjoy reduced
premiums, while those with higher EMRs may face increased costs, serving as a financial incentive for safety improvements.

Furthermore, the worksheet aids in risk management and budget planning and provides a basis for consultation and appeals if
discrepancies or inaccuracies are identified. In essence, the experience modification worksheet is a pivotal tool for businesses
to understand, manage and optimize their workers’ compensation insurance costs while promoting a safer workplace.

The worksheet has a specific layout where classification codes, payroll details and expected loss data are presented on the left
side, while information related to claims is displayed on the right side. The initial six columns of this table provide various types
of information. The first column, labeled as “Code,” denotes the classification codes assigned to a company.

Elements of an Experience Modification Worksheet

An experience modification worksheet typically contains several components. These components provide a comprehensive
view of a company’s claims history and are essential for determining workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Here are the
main components of an experience modification worksheet:

  • Basic information—This section includes essential details about the insured business, such as the company’s name,
    address, policy number and the effective date of the rating period. It also contains a risk identification number that is
    assigned to the employer by the NCCI. In addition, the worksheet will show “interstate” if the business operates in more
    than one state; it will list the state if it operates in only one state. Ensuring the accuracy of this information is critical for
  • Policy period—The worksheet specifies the time frame for which the EMR is being calculated. This period typically spans
    three years but excludes the most recent policy year to ensure accurate historical data. The oldest policy period is at the
    top of the page, and the most recent is at the bottom of the page. Each policy period has a section for payroll that
    includes classification codes that identify the nature of the business. Employers can have one or more class codes that
  • Claims data—The heart of the worksheet lies in the claims data section. This part includes comprehensive details about
    each workers’ compensation claim made by employees during the calculation period. Each claim entry typically includes
    the claim number, date of injury, type of injury, amount paid and the reserve amount.
  • Expected losses—The expected loss ratio (ELR) column typically provides information about the expected losses for the
    insured business. There is an ELR for each class code written out in dollars and cents. These expected losses are calculated
    based on industry standards and actuarial data and a state-by-state basis representing what an average business in the
    same industry would typically experience in terms of workers’ compensation claims. It serves as an indicator of the
    expected dollar amount that an insurer is likely to expend on losses for every $100 of payroll.
  • Experience modifier calculation—The EMR is calculated using a specific formula that compares the actual losses incurred
    by the business to the expected losses. While the exact formula may vary slightly, it generally follows a format similar to
    • Experience Modifier = (Actual Primary Losses + Expected Primary Losses) / Expected Primary Losses
      • Actual primary losses—This is the total amount paid for all primary losses (direct claim costs) during the
        experience period.
      • Expected primary losses—This is the expected amount of primary losses based on industry standards.
  • Impact on premium—The calculation’s resulting EMR is a numerical factor applied to the company’s workers’
    compensation insurance premium. An EMR of 1.0 is considered average, with values below indicating lower risk (leading to
    reduced premiums) and values above suggesting higher risk (increasing premiums).
  • Risk classification—Some worksheets may include what the NCCI calls a discount ratio, or D-ratio. This determines the
    portion losses that are expected to be primary losses.
  • Experience rating adjustment—This section may outline any additional adjustments or factors that affect the experience
    modifier. These adjustments could be state-specific, related to discounts or based on other factors.
  • Loss data summary—Some worksheets include a summary table that provides an overview of actual losses, expected
    losses, and the resulting experience modifier. This summary can help stakeholders quickly assess the company’s claims
    history and EMR.
  • Appeals and disputes—There may be information about the process for appealing or disputing the calculated EMR or
    claims data if a business believes there are inaccuracies or errors.


Understanding the components on the experience modification worksheet is crucial for businesses to manage their workers’
compensation insurance costs effectively and implement strategies to improve workplace safety and reduce claims. It is also
essential to ensure that the EMR accurately reflects the company’s claims history, which, in turn, impacts insurance premiums.

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