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NCCI Return To Work Analysis – Carriers Perspective on Cost Reductions


New NCCI Return To Work Analysis – Asking The Insurers Their Thoughts

NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance) recently published a whitepaper as part of their Insights publications.  The NCCI Return to Work Insight covered six pages.  You can read or download a copy here.

NCCI Return to Work Analysis and Six Keys To Cutting Comp Costs

I have covered the Six Keys To Cutting Comp Costs for over 34 years.  The Six Keys and some of the insurers’ recommendations were the same.

The insurers covered a few that I have not written on over the years.

Note – these are the companies that charge you premiums telling you how to cut your comp costs.  Listen up, download the article, and read it.  The whole Insight article takes less than 10 minutes to read in full- worth your time.

ncci workers comp return to work five men
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Return To Work Coordinator

Another component that overlaps with both management commitment and communication is having a RTW coordinator at the workplace. One insurer emphasized the benefits of having a person responsible for facilitating light-duty work, including a single point of contact for the insurer and medical provider who would help streamline communication. The RTW coordinator also serves as an internal resource for the employer and liaises with the injured worker’s supervisor to facilitate the worker’s return prior to the medical provider granting a full release. Having medical providers who understand occupational injuries and RTW programs can also be important.

In the late 1990s, I was the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association.  We had 120 county-based school districts.  The easiest way that we found to facilitate anything to do with Workers Comp in the school systems was to have a Workers Comp Administrator (WCA) at any of the LAEs (Counties).

This included a return to work coordination effort.  This sometimes did not pan out unless the county’s school system had someone to directly coordinate a return to work.

This section of the NCCI return to work article rang very true.

Job Bank

The NCCI pointed out a great technique that seemed to be very popular until the mid-2000s then the idea faded over the following years.   A job bank or inventory of available light-duty jobs has always been a great idea.  The initial investment may be costly.  The return on investment will be paid back within three to four years maximum.

During a workers comp hearing, an employer with a job bank shows they have invested the funds into returning injured workers back to work.

Medical Case Managers and Nurses – Great Suggestion

I consider the medical case managers and nurses to be almost the same individual.  I had written these two recommendations very often as a risk management technique.

From the article

The insurers interviewed indicated that these individuals are instrumental in engaging with the
injured worker to remove RTW barriers. One mentioned that in lieu of asking what an injured worker cannot do, asking “What is it that you can do?” focuses the conversation on abilities and opportunities instead of disabilities and limitations. Medical case managers use job descriptions to connect the injured worker, the employer, and the medical provider to identify abilities, job modifications, and ultimately a position for the injured worker.

Nurses can add value by making sure medical treatment is appropriately managed, beginning with the initial
intake of a claim. They help injured workers navigate through managed care networks to help secure appropriate care.
Insurers may use third-party nurse case managers in conjunction with employed nurses who work directly with the claims adjusters to establish rehabilitation programs.

One insurer indicated that, for severe cases, nurses may be assigned to specific claims and work with the adjuster. Nurses are out front to help identify light-duty jobs and get doctor recommendations to determine what’s best for a light-duty RTW situation. Nurses can also assist in ensuring that injured employees are physically capable of returning to work and engage with physicians “peer-to-peer” to get their buy-in. Without this, injured employees may not be successful in returning to work.

Very Important Department Mentioned In The NCCI Return To Work Article

From the article –

Underwriting can be an important touchpoint to introduce employers to RTW or to reinforce the benefits
of RTW. During the application process, underwriting professionals can review loss history and setup at the employer to determine the potential for establishing a RTW program. Insurers interviewed said, as part of the underwriting renewal, review, they are intentional in determining if and how RTW is addressed.

During the underwriting process, risk selection and pricing are key considerations. It may not be an underwriting
requirement and there may not be a pricing structure related to return-to-work but having a RTW program or an employer willing to implement or modify a RTW program can make a difference in the selection of risk as well as the pricing. As one carrier said, “It’s a chance for us to shine as a team when the agency partner and the risk control rep visit an account that doesn’t have return-to-work.”

Let us not forget the Schedule Rating Factors that the insurance underwriting departments have at their disposal to help your company out with your policy quote or renewal.   They can swing your insurance costs from a 25% savings to a 25% premium increase.

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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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