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Are Workers Compensation Costs Just Overhead?


Workers Compensation Costs Should Be Viewed As Variable – Not Fixed

Do the Workers Compensation costs count as overhead? I have seen this situation many times when reviewing employers’ Workers Compensation situation. The cost of Workers Comp is a budget item that is in the overhead cost (cost of doing business) section of their budget. I would never infer that an employer, whether self-insured or not, should just change their company’s budget to make Workers Comp a controllable variable cost.

Including Workers Comp as a variable cost will usually result in three changes/improvements:

Graphic Of Scissor Cutting Costs Workers Compensation Costs Concept
(c) 123rf.com

• Workers Comp costs will be examined more by Senior Management. If Workers Comp is viewed as a fixed cost, little attention will be paid to a possible silent budget killer. If a Risk Manager or CFO presents the costs as variable, Senior Management or the owners will be much more accepting of an in-depth analysis.

• Forecasting your future Workers Comp budget will be more accurate. If your company had 500 employees, and now has 350 due to the economy, why would you pay the same amount on the upfront policy with a 30% drop in employees and payroll? The same can be said for the budgeting of a self-insured. If Workers Comp costs are seen as overhead, then forecasting is usually not even attempted overall.

Picture Of Wallet Workers Compensation Costs Full Of Money

• Now that Workers Comp is a variable cost, the budget responsibilities can be broken down, for instance, each department, plant, location, etc. One of the quickest ways to lower a Mod is to delegate responsibility for their portion of the Mod down to the smallest groups possible. Lag time on reporting injuries is usually cut very quickly and substantially when lag time is looked at by management or the Risk Manager.

There are many other advantages to looking at Workers Comp as a variable cost.

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James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications


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