Managing workers’ comp claims in the Covid-19 environment is creating several challenges for members of the claim management team and other interested stakeholders. These barriers should be an opportunity to provide best in class service by adapting, improvising, and overcoming these challenges. If done correctly, insurance carriers can provide injured employees with the benefits they are entitled to in a timely manner, and serve their clients.
Overcoming Covid-19 Barriers to Effective Claim Handling
The barriers are countless. Now is a time to adapt an unlock the power of technology. Consider the following:
- Effective Use of Email: Use emailing for sending longer letters that communicate important information. Avoid the often obligatory “thank you,” or “reply all” responses that clog up in-boxes.
- Effective Use of Instant Messaging: There are countless safe and secure online instant messaging tools available for use. These easy to use tools allow “offline” work-related conversations to take place between individuals, or a group. Using this tool reduces clutter in email in-boxes.
- Stay Connected via Videoconferences: Humans are social creatures and often crave interaction with others. In an area of physical distancing, video cameras that are present on most laptops and smartphones can stream video calls seamlessly.
- Check Voicemails and Return Calls: The new home office environment is requiring many people to check their work voicemails on a regular basis. It is also an opportunity to ask callers to leave a convenient callback time if you are going to use a personal phone to call that person back. Never store work-related information on your home landline or personal cellphone. When calling from these lines, be sure to dial “*67” to maintain a level of privacy.
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Cybersecurity is of utmost importance. Make sure all electronic communications are secure. If work documents are printed in a home office environment, make sure it is shredded. If a business compliant shedder is not available, create a “burn bag,” and ensure it is properly and safely destroyed
Fostering an Environment of Responsiveness
Paranoia can easily set in when people do not receive information. Take a few extra moments to consider the following:
- Express empathy to someone’s situation: We all likely know someone who has lost a job, or is on furlough. This causes added stress on people as money is even more scarce.
- Set realistic expectations: Many processes are taking more time. Be sure to communicate this with injured employees. Let them know when they can expect to receive a check is there is a processing or mail delay.
- Encourage direct deposit of benefits: Some members of the claim management team avoid setting up direct deposit of workers’ compensation benefits as it requires paperwork on their end. Direct deposit can buy goodwill – avoids the delays in mailing paper checks. Bonus: It also allows injured employees to avoid a trip to the back and exposure of germs.
Insurance carriers and third-party administrators should also use this as an opportunity to develop smartphone applications and online tools. These functions can provide an easy to navigate dashboard for injured employees that include these useful features:
- Portal access that allows an injured employee to quickly communicate with the claim handler. This includes the quick uploading of documents required, and avoids delays associated with faxes, encrypting emails, traditional mail service; and
- Realtime report on claim status and payments. This empowers the injured employee to know when payments were made.
The bottom line is the current COVID-19 presents many opportunities for claim management teams to enhance their systems and improve communication.
Never Forget Empathy
Empathy goes a long way in these challenging times. The loss of income being experienced by injured employees can be compounded by many structural barriers. This includes the inability to receive medical care for their work injury, countless businesses closing their doors, and a drop in those hiring.
We live in a brave new world that is challenging members of the claim management team. Now is the time to drive best in class services to ensure responsiveness to insureds, and injured employees. The current global situation also provides teams with an opportunity to re-elevate their current platforms and determine how to drive innovation.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center.
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