2021 Workers Comp Resolutions – Huge Change From 2020?
The 2021 Workers Comp resolutions began with waiting until all the election cycles had been completed from 2020. I usually crank out the resolutions in December of the prior year. With so much occurring in forgettable 2020, these resolutions were the toughest ones to produce in well over a decade.
Looking Back At The 2020 Resolutions – Starting Point
Workers Compensation has not really changed that much over the last 30 years. Yes, the laws/rules have changed. The basics have stayed the same and will likely not change that much unless, in my opinion, Workers Comp Federalization occurs in the future.
The Affordable Care Act was a step towards federalization. A few very small steps in legislation could have created a Workers Compensation National Fund similar to one of the non-monopolistic State Funds.
Building 2021 Workers Comp Resolutions – Using 2020 Resolutions
Let us go over the last years’ resolutions and either eliminate, improve, or replace each resolution. My comments are in italics for each one. Many of the resolutions are still valid as written in 2020. I left those alone.
- Check the resolutions that I wrote each year for the last 11 years for ideas. You can type resolutions in the search box. The resolutions should come up in date order – newest to oldest. If you wish to delve into workers comp cost savings, some of the old resolutions that I removed from the list might benefit your
company. Believe me, your time spent will be well worth it.
- Were there any surprises in your Workers Comp program? If so, find out why they occurred so they will not become worse in 2020 and beyond. The COVID-19 changes your company experienced fits well into the surprise category. See resolutions #5 and #6 for changes that may need to be made quickly in your workers’ comp program.
- Read your current Workers Comp policies, including the endorsements. If you have questions, email your agent. This has not changed since the first article on resolutions. We always receive questions when the premium audit has finished, and the premium audit bill has been produced. Catch any policy changes (endorsements) when they are endorsed, not after the fact when a bill arrives from the carrier.
- Read your current Workers Comp loss runs for ALL claims over the last 10 years. The new analytics packages examine much longer time spans than just what your E-Mod covers. If you have any questions, email your adjuster.
- Dust off your claims reporting guidelines. With the smartphone society we live in – the speed of information becomes very critical at the beginning of a claim. This resolution has become quite a problem over the last few months with COVID-19 causing an increase in employees working from home. Have you adjusted your claims reporting guideline since February 2020? J&L now has a stack of claims we are reviewing that started with in-home accidents turning into large claims as no medical control was used and the claims were reported very late by the injured employee.
- Update and clarify your medical treatment network. Medical providers change over time. Are you using your carrier’s medical networks for additional savings? Do you know where to send injured employees with certain
injuries? Does your original treating physician know where to refer your injured employees? This one has changed so much with employees working from home. Your medical treatment network may need to expand for the initial treating physician if your employees live far away from their previous workplace. Workers Comp Judges do not like to see employees have to drive a long route to see a physician the employer asked them to see for their injuries. Adding on new medical treatment facilities may take some time to develop. If a remote worker has an in-home on the job injury, the time will be well-spent.
- Create a job bank. Do your treating physicians know what jobs you offer and what light duty positions are in place if an injured employee returns to work. The post-COVID job bank can be complicated at best. Whenever the lockdowns are lifted, valid job banks will be needed to cut workers’ comp costs. Updating or creating them now may be a great project for someone working from home.
- Review your return to work program. Accommodating injured employees with light-duty jobs can save an employer thousands on just one claim. The days of an employer only allowing a full-duty return to work is coming to an end.
- Trust of the employer before an accident causes a quicker return to work and better claims outcomes – multiple WCRI studies verified this fact over the last 5 years. With many employees being remote, employee trust of the employer becomes even more critical. Many of the employees injured working at home felt the need to treat under health and not report the claim to their employer.
- Explore alternative coverages such as PEO’s, self-insurance, captives, etc. if you must have a Mod below 1.0. Many contractors, including governmental, require their subcontractors have an E-Mod of 1.0 or below. Having an E-Mod of 1.2 when your company needs a 1.0 can wipe out 80% of an employer’s business
overnight. Unfortunately, NCCI and the other rating bureaus have become a de facto credit bureau. Is it fair?
- Analyze your premium audits very closely. Does it look right? Many independent contractors are now being added into the audits. Certificates of insurance are golden in this situation.
- Join and become active with an association of similar companies. For some reason, I have found over the last 25+ years that companies that join and participate in their related associations have lower Workers’ Comp costs. I have never pinpointed the exact reason. With the advent of online conferences, the attendance of these online webinars makes joining and attending association meetings much easier. Many associations have free or greatly reduced conference costs due to overhead expense reductions.
- If your company expands into other states, those states’ Workers’ Compensation rules and laws may be totally different. Local defense attorneys usually have summary cheat sheets that cover the state’s WC rules in a few pages.
- Monitor any of your subrogation files using a diary system. Do not leave claims money on the table and walk away. We see this often in WC files. Make sure the adjuster writes the initial claim letter against a third party timely.
- Get online access. I can tell you after reviewing claim files since the 1980s, online access to your claims saves time, aggravation, and premium dollars. A loss run lets you know what has occurred in a claim. Online access
lets you know what is occurring now on your claims.
- I added this one in as many workers will return to their jobs in 2021 having not worked in the job for over a year. The learning curve (accident curve) shows when employees first return to their jobs their risk of injury is similar to a new employee.
The 2021 Workers Comp resolutions for self-insureds are coming out tomorrow. They, too, became very complicated to complete as did the above resolutions.
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