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2021 Self Insured Workers Comp Resolutions – The COVID Effect


2021 Self Insured Workers Comp Resolutions COVID Caused A Few Changes

Most New Year’s Resolutions come from altering the resolutions from last year.   The 2021 Self Insured Workers Comp resolutions will be no different.   Keeping the resolutions from last year and adding a few changes for COVID should suffice for 2021.

new years 2021 workers comp self insured resolutions
Public Use License – Vyacheslav Argenberg


I usually write the resolutions for the next year in December.  With so many rules changes and changes in the political environment, waiting until after all the elections seemed the best way to handle the 2021 self-insured workers comp resolutions.

The 2020 Self Insured Workers Comp Resolutions center around sustaining success in your program and fixing a few issues that may be costing you dearly.   Some of these resolutions come from old resolutions.

Search self-insured resolutions for suggestions from the past.  Any changes to the 2020 resolutions are in italics.  

  1. You are paying directly from your budget.   With the advent of COVID – reviewing your loss runs online, not on paper at monthly or quarterly intervals is beyond critical now.   Following the payment patterns become critical if you have incurred several claims.  Monitoring the outflows of claims payments cannot be just an exercise in reviewing a loss run.  You must dig deeper to the granular level of individual payments.   Remember, the adjusters are spending directly from your accounts.   If you have many employees working from home, the learning curve accident will come into play as
    No Frills Account on 2021 self insured workers comp resolutions is directed to the bank
    Wikimedia Commons – Samantray renuka

    they return to their regular jobs. 

  2. Those festering medical-only claims usually turn out to be your worst nightmares.  Watch the claims closely that have no Indemnity paid but have a large amount of medical paid quickly or a building medical reserve with no closure.   Claims festering becomes a ticking time bomb if these claims are not monitored.
  3. Is your company still large enough in a state to justify self-insurance?  Companies change locations quickly.  Many states require a minimum of liquid assets and bonds per state, not per company.  Watch the minimums in each state.  If your company has had to cut back its workforce, self-insurance may not be the correct option.   The fixed costs per state may not justify being self-insured in states where you were self-insured in the past.
  4. Having a working relationship with your claims adjusters becomes a must from day one.  See #1 above.  The adjusters in your TPA become quasi-employees as they are spending directly out of your budget.  One of the first tasks we often perform in a self-insured review involves establishing which adjusters are working on what claims.   Most claim adjusters welcome emailed questions if they are not vague or argumentative.
  5.  Obtaining and understanding your LDF (Loss Development Factor).   Yes, your company may have gotten away from the E-Mod system.  LDFs become your claims and risk management GPS.  Many software
    Sustainability for 2021 self insured workers comp resolutions chart
    Wikimedia Commons – Sqivrx10

    packages will produce LDFs.   The inputs into the equations sometimes cause confusion and skewed numbers.  If you do not feel comfortable calculating your LDFs, seek out assistance.   The LDFs may become more inaccurate if they are backloaded with full claims payment data even though your present and future workforce may have shrunk.  Review the number you submit to any actuary very closely.  

  6. Becoming self-insured is not a fashion statement.   I have analyzed and advised many self-insureds to stay where they are in the insurance process.  Just because you are now large enough to be self-insured does not mean you should take steps to leave the E-Mod system behind.   See #3 above, is your company still large enough or going to be large enough in a certain state to justify self-insurance?  Every company wants to be self-insured, but should you stay with self-insurance – hard one to call. 
  7. Setting your level of reinsurance can be tricky.   Most potential self-insureds think that $250,000 is the only level.   Many active reinsurers reinsure worker’s comp self-insureds from $100,000 per claim.  Yes, the insurance is more expensive than $250,000 per claim.  One has to stop and think if they would have any claims that would split between $100,000 to $250,000.

    Medical Assistance for 2021 self insured workers comp resolutions tour
    Wikimedia Commons – Cjp24
  8. Asking the State for assistance. States have become much more helpful to self-insureds.  Each state’s Department of Insurance does not want to have a bucketful of failed self-insureds on their lists.  Assistance with self-insurance applications seems to have increased over the last 10 t0 15 years.   Not too long ago, the process was almost a guessing game.
  9. Looking at other insurance markets.  The alternatives to self-insurance have become a cottage industry of sorts.  Many consultant companies, agencies, and captive managers aligned their services as alternatives to self-insurance without incurring the full risk.  These companies have quietly placed themselves in certain markets and performed well.  PEOs have become a very viable option since the start of 2020.  Yes, PEOs consist of returning to more of a premium structure than resembling self-insurance.  
  10. Intensify the use of My Six KeysThe keys have helped self-insureds very often over the last 20 years.  See this page for the Six Keys. You probably already know them.   The keys have not changed since the 1980s.   Return to work will take on a new connotation this year with at-home workers return to work.  The return to work for injured employees may have been delayed due to COVID-19.   We have seen many office visits and surgeries postponed or canceled since March of 2020.  Having patience with medical treatment delays seem to have worked out for most employers.  Office visits and some surgeries have begun again in some states.  Each state has its own protocols on medical treatment.  #11 below became very important in 2020. 
  11. Medical networks become more critical to self-insureds success over the years.   Having an industrial minded physician with a good bedside manner makes claims costs go down.   Remember, you are spending directly out of a budgeted account.  Return to work becomes tantamount to your program’s success.  As with the recommendations for non-self-insureds, COVID-19 may have made your workforce become very distributed across a larger area.  If someone is injured while working at home, where do you send them for treatment if they have a home worker injury?  Yes, they do happen.  Workers Comp Boards do not appreciate requiring an injured employee to drive 1.5 hours for workers comp treatment. 
  12. Your program will likely take hits over the years.  Not every year can be chalked up to a banner year.  Risk is a risk.  Expect the best but prepare for the worst (reinsurance, medical networks,
    Medical networks of 2021 self insured workers comp resolutions brain anatomy
    Wikimedia Commons – Martin420

    return to work program, etc.).

  13. Keep your C-Level Executive or company owners updated on how the program progresses over time.   Many times, I, as a consultant, informed the Executives what was going on in their programs.  A truncated loss run with a mini claims status works most of the time.  Do not operate on an island.   With many employees being spread out over a larger area including your injured employees, C-Level Executives need to know very current information on the company’s workers compensation program.  A loss run analysis report works well.  Keep it concise. 
  14. Watch the budget for expenses (ALAE) that are not related directly to claims payments.   Private investigators, defense attorneys, rehabilitation nurses (well worth it), and other ALAE are now being paid directly out of your budget.   In some states, the costs to handle and facilitate claims totaled more than the claim payouts (Ouch!)
  15. Look at the E-Mod system for a few pointers.    Even though your company pays all the workers’ compensation costs, step back from payments, and analyze the risks.   The number of accidents you may have in a year may look small in total.   However, the E-Mod system looks at the number of claims per year being riskier than just one disastrous claim.   Any one or more of the smaller claims can turn into a huge claim.  A claim is a bundle of risk.   Many claims equal a snowball of risk going down the hill.   Rating bureaus have adjusted their formulas to reflect an increased risk with a group of claims vs. one bad claim.   Why did they adjust the numbers?  They have databases that show repetitive accidents cause a higher ri
    Budget for 2021 self insured workers comp resolutions growth
    Wikimedia Commons – Grillofrances

    sk for a certain employer.

    With all of the COVID-19 changes voluntary insurance and the E-Mod system, self-insurance and the E-Mod system have gone on divergent paths when considering risk.  I cannot say as of now if the E-Mod system can aid a self-insured in analyzing risk.  









I could post many more resolutions for self-insureds.  Many times,  I write articles pointed towards non-self-insureds.   This article was purely for the 2021 Self Insured Workers Comp resolutions.    Good luck in 2021 and thankfully goodbye 2020.



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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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