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How To Ruin A Workers Comp Claim in Five Seconds, Claim Number?


Asking For Claim Numbers Can Wreck Any Workers Comp Relationship – J&L

Yesterday, I was trying to locate a claim for a long-term client.  I was following the subrogation status on a claim for them.   I was told that I had left out one number in a 22-character claim number.

pay phone booth workers comp claim number
Wikimedia Commons-Chriistina Helmsman

The claim was not showing up on a loss run the client ran for me to review.  This situation harkens me back to what I have not done in Workers Compensation for 30+ years.  

Why I Never Ask For Or Reference Claim Number – A Little Secret

When an injured employee calls in, asking for a claim number does one thing – it reminds the caller or emailer that they are a number, not an individual.   In 30 years, I have not looked up any injured employee by a claim number – never, ever.

Injured employees with resolved claims were interviewed by WCRI for a study they were conducting.  Dr. Savych produced a landmark study on what happens to injured employees post-claim.

One word came up that determined whether an employee felt the claims process went well.  That word was “trust.”  If the employee trusted their employer before the accident, claims usually resolved more quickly.

Asking for a workers’ comp claims number may be a great way to pull up a claim.

I have always looked up the injured employee by:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Employer
  • Accident Date.

I never used the claim number.  I thought that it impersonalized a somewhat personal transaction.

An Example of Claim Number Alienation

Man driving Claim Number rainy road
Wikimedia Commons – Oregon Department of Transportation

Approximately eight years ago, I, unfortunately, ran into a deer while traveling at 65 miles per hour.  Calling in a claim to my auto insurer at midnight from a hotel room was beyond stressful.

After going through the usual phoned-in claims reporting question, the adjuster gave me a long claim number that I did not write down accurately.

The next morning,  I called back in to see about obtaining a rental car.  My auto insurance carrier phone rep asked for the claim number.  I, due to stress, and sleeplessness misplaced the claim number.

The phone rep kept asking for it.  I said that I have my policy number on my proof of insurance. or could he/she not look it up by my name and date of the accident?  After 15 minutes of waiting, they came back on the phone with my 20+ digit and letter claim number.   I was told it was critical to use that number when calling in after then.

I never called the company again and switched auto carriers at the next renewal.

Bottom Line – I felt like just another number – not really a personal interaction.

Best Way To Find a Person’s Claim

Injured Army Claim Number on knee
Wikimedia Commons – U.S. Army Europe Images

Pulling up the claim by the injured employee’s name and the employer was always the best way for me.   I did not ask them for something that the carrier or TPA had given them to remember and reference.  I always asked for info that existed before the claim, not after.

The great adjusters and claim reps seem to always develop some time of personal relationship with the injured employee unless of course if they were represented by an attorney.

Did you ever notice when you deal with a doctor’s office, they do not ask you for a patient number?  I wonder why?

Bottom Line – This advice may seem a little picky.  Try it and you will see how it changes your relationships with your injured employees.   Avoid asking for claim numbers.


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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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