Being new to workers’ compensation can often seem like you are trying to navigate a foreign land. It helps to know what to expect getting started. Here are five additional items it helps to know about the job.
- Sometimes it is time to babysit.
Injuries do happen. The employee needs to know the company still cares after the worker is no longer able to work. If there is a workers compensation coordinator, you can delegate to her the job of keeping in touch with all the injured workers until they are back to work doing transitional duty. The best policy is to contact the injured employee after each medical appointment to learn of any issues with their medical treatment, their return to work status and any concerns they have about their job or their work comp claim. By showing the injured employees the employer cares, it will have an overall effect of lowering cost of workers compensation.
- Know the adjuster(s).
The adjuster is now a new best friend. A competent adjuster who does the job well will make the WC manager’s job easier. The better the working relationship with the adjuster, the fewer snags encountered on workers compensation claims. (The fewer adjusters to work with, the easier it is to learn their strong points and weak points. If the claims are not already consolidated with the minimum number of adjusters possible to cover the claims, work toward consolidating claims with the best adjusters available.
- Know your insurance broker.
The broker is now a second new best friend. A mistake a lot of new workers comp managers make is thinking the broker works for or is an employee of the insurance company. The broker is a knowledgeable business person who works for the employer as an advisor. The broker’s main job is to keep the employer (insured) happy. Discuss with the broker what benefits are provided. Hold the broker to this, and the new job will get easier. Expect more than simply an annual stewardship report. Ask the broker to be proactive and make suggestions about your workers compensation program.
- Know the return to work program.
The better the company’s transitional duty program, also known as modified duty or light duty, the quicker and faster the workers compensation claims will come to an end. The company is going to be paying the cost of the indemnity benefits through higher workers comp premiums. To reduce the cost of those benefits, return the employee to modified duty. While the injured employee may not be as productive as an uninjured employee, all the productivity of the injured employee on light duty is benefiting the company to some extent while reducing the cost of the claim.
- Review the claim files.
If asked, most third party administrators or insurance companies will arrange online access to the claim file notes where the adjuster records the activities and events of the claim. While the file notes are helpful, they do not tell the whole story. Go to the claims office and read everything in the claim files. The claims office will probably try to talk you into doing an on-line review, but an in-person review with the adjuster(s) about the claims will provide the most information. There are also claim consultants who do claim file audits, if that is preferable.
Good luck in the new role as the work comp manager. Use the ideas and consult our website often for advice on workers compensation. For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.
Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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