California is noted for leading the way in trends such as fashion, but at least one role that puts the state at or near the head of the list isn't as attractive.

California businesses face some of the nation's highest workers' compensation premium costs. That includes credit unions, even though their risk exposure is less than industries such as construction or manufacturing. So in 2004, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues introduced a program aimed at curbing those rates.

Figures from C-U First Ltd, the captive insurance company established by the leagues, show that in 2008, the approach returned $1 million to its credit union policyholders. Since 2004 program enrollees have experienced a 64% premium rate decrease and received $1.7 million in returns.

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