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Scariest Claims of All – IBNR Can Be Frightening – Happy Halloween


IBNR Can Be Frightening To All Parties

IBNR (Incurred But Not Reported) can be one of the most frightening aspects of the Workers Compensation system as a whole.  I often hear the term bandied about in WC “techie talk” conversations.  All parties in the WC system need to be aware of these claims.

Graphic Of Scary House IBNR Halloween

I used to ignore the term as just being another term that confuses people.  I had thought it was not important enough to mention very often when this blog was started in 2007.

The definition of IBNR claims is basically claims that have occurred which have never been reported to an employer or carrier.    How does this affect each entity in the WC process?


Injuries such as carpal tunnel; a worker’s back that has been strained several times; a trucker that has to haul loads on a very dangerous route, can all be thought of as a claim “that is waiting to happen.” The even scarier ones are where the employee decides to “work through” the injury.  The accident has occurred but the employee just does not report it to their employer.   Employers usually find out about these claims when there is a layoff or the person no longer works for that employer.


Many formulas (regression, triangulation, etc.) have tried to assist in assessing how many claims a carrier or TPA does not have that are “not on the books” such as the prior example where an employee has not reported the claim to their employer.   The other conundrum for carriers/TPA’s is when the employer decides to pay small claims and not report them to their carrier.  This violates one of the Five Keys To Saving on Workers Comp Claims that I wrote many years ago.  I coined the term “claims festering.”  This is a claim that has occurred and was reported to the employer, but not reported to the carrier.

Rating Bureaus, State Regulators

House On Top Of Roll Money IBNR And Man Sitting On Chair

These two groups have been left to rectify and quantify the IBNR claims.  There is a very large amount of reference data in existence.  However, trying to assess something that does not yet actually “show in the numbers” is a tough task at best.


This is a term that leaves actuaries, insurance carriers, rating bureaus, and regulators scratching their heads.   Incurred But Not Enough Reported (IBENR)  will add adjusters to the mix.  A claim may have been reported, but not yet reserved properly.  IBENR really can be affected at all levels of the WC insurance process.   I actually accidentally found this term when I googled IBNR.

The bottom line is to watch out for IBNR – better known as the claims goblins.

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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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