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Workers Comp Decentralization – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

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Workers Comp Decentralization – Will Everyone Work In An Office Together Again?

I had written on the Workers Comp decentralization and centralization a few times in the past. The Great Remote Work Change seemed to happen quietly but quickly in the early part of 2020.

pic of ice contraction workers comp decntralization
(c) Public Use – Brocken Inaglory

When I wrote on workers comp decentralization, I was referring to how carriers and TPAs open more remote offices and then close them down less than a decade later.  This happened right here in my backyard – Raleigh, NC with two major carriers.  I will not mention their names due to legal reasons.

One cannot disagree that workers comp decentralization had reached its peak during the pandemic. Many insurance and carrier offices were moved into workers’ homes as permanent remote workers.

The surprising comment made by a major insurance carrier adjuster was that their office had already experienced decentralization long before the pandemic.  The senior claims adjuster said they had been working from home as a remote adjuster for a decade before the pandemic.

Moving Away From Workers Comp Decentralization – Your Manager Wants You Back In The Office

I came across a large number of articles on why the centralization effort is back in place with many employers.  According to Going Concern, they are:(recommend following link for the full story – worth a read)

  • Companies are losing grasp of their cultures – a legitimate concern by insurance-based employers and other companies
  • Allows Employees to Ask Why More Often – “why” being the employees are examining their future aspirations more closely
  • Lack of desperately needed OTJ training for new hires – this one heavily applies to adjusters, even to partially experienced hires
  • Working from the office is how executives got where they are – this concept was the most surprising to me
  • Employers want to track you and it is easier to do from the office – goes without comments

I think this list applies very well to the insurance company and TPA offices.  I do not necessarily agree with the last one on the list.  With good technology, most companies including insurance-based ones can track your work without having everyone in the office.

The unexpected fourth point on executives rings very true unless management has or will permanently adapt to video meetings, phone calls, and emails.   We all like a list with one surprising twist to it.

Covering The Bad and Ugly – A Silver Lining To The Cloud

One area in which I have seen an improvement with remote workers during the pandemic deserves its own article.   You can check it out here.  I did not want to mention only negative developments during the pandemic. ***

The silver lining was something that I noticed about claims adjusters’ performance in one area that we discovered during our claim file and reserve reviews.  It is the next article that I am currently writing this week.

The current workers comp decentralization or future centralization will depend on:

  • Technology – this is a given
  • Management acceptance – See #4 in the above list.
  • Future pandemics or cataclysms – hopefully not.

The centralization/decentralization cycle in insurance companies will continue as it has for the last 50 years.

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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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