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10 Things the New Workers Comp Manager Needs to Know

Original article from reduceyourworkerscomp.com

By Rebecca Shafer

While more colleges are now offering majors in risk management and insurance than there were available just ten or twenty years ago, many of the people who come in to the field of risk management and the even more specialized field of Workers Compensation Manager, do not have previous experience or backgrounds in workers compensation. It is nothing unusual in this day of tight hiring practices and double duty jobs for the new workers comp manager to also be working in another department such as finance or human resources. It becomes a learn-as-you-go-experience.

We know the new workers comp manager, even the one who has been a workers comp adjuster, often needs a guide on what to anticipate in the new role. Therefore, we have put together a list of 10 things it helps to know about the job. Here is our list of ten things the new workers compensation manager knows, but no one will tell.

1. The Safety Manager is your new best friend. 

The better the safety manager does the job, the easier the new WC manager’s job will be, as fewer accidents means fewer workers compensation claims to be made.  Ask the safety manager what can be done to eliminate accidents and injuries.

2. Learn how to read the loss run. 

The loss run provides tons of useful information on the nature and the extent of the injuries. Learn about the types of injuries that occur most often and discuss with the Safety Manager what can be done to eliminate the frequent re-occurrences. Review the loss run to see how much money is being spent on medical and how much money is paid out in indemnity benefits. Look for areas where costs can be reduced. Customize the loss run; ask friends about the most helpful stats they have on their loss run, and include those on yours.

3. Know your insurer.

The insurance company that writes the workers compensation insurance is the insurer. The term “insurance carrier” will also be used. This does not mean they carry premiums to the bank. It is an old fashion term for carrying the burden of insurance loss. (Not to be confused with “insured” which is the employer). Learn about the insurer. Are they a mammoth insurance company who writes workers compensation as one of many types of insurance, or are they a smaller regional or local company that specializes in workers compensation. What services do they offer as part of you program or at low cost. Ask them to explain ALL of their services, not just those they pre-select.

4. Know the cost of workers compensation.

Learn what is paid for workers compensation insurance each year, and if the premium is paid monthly, quarterly, or annually. Learn policy dates and which way the premium has been trending in recent years. (Declining premiums are a good sign the safety manager is doing his job well, while increasing premiums indicates a need to team with the Safety Manager to reduce the number of claims and the severity of the claims that do occur. Know how to translate this into total dollars spent on workers compenstion and use this calculator  to gain managment support.

5. Timing is everything.

The most successful workers compensation managers are the ones that learn time is of the essence in almost everything done as a work comp manager. New injury? Report it immediately to the claims office and immediately advise the medical provider’s office of the transitional duty program. New disability slip? Coordinate with the injured employee’s supervisor on how to accommodate the light duty work slip. New information on an older claim? Call the adjuster and share it with her so she can act on the information while it is still beneficial.

6. Sometimes it is time to babysit.

Injuries do happen. The employee needs to know the company still cares after the worker is no longer able to work. If there is a workers compensation coordinator, you can delegate to her the job of keeping in touch with all the injured workers until they are back to work doing transitional duty. The best policy is to contact the injured employee after each medical appointment to learn of any issues with their medical treatment, their return to work status and any concerns they have about their job or their work comp claim. By showing the injured employees the employer cares, it will have an overall effect of lowering cost of workers compensation.

7. Know the adjuster(s).

The adjuster is now a new best friend. A competent adjuster who does the job well will make the WC manager’s job easier. The better the working relationship with the adjuster, the fewer snags encountered on workers compensation claims. (The fewer adjusters to work with, the easier it is to learn their strong points and weak points. If the claims are not already consolidated with the minimum number of adjusters possible to cover the claims, work toward consolidating claims with the best adjusters available.

8. Know your insurance broker.

The broker is now a third new best friend. A mistake a lot of new workers comp managers make is thinking the broker works for or is an employee of the insurance company. The broker is a knowledgeable business person who works for the employer as an advisor. The broker’s main job is to keep the employer (insured) happy.  Discuss with the broker what benefits are provided. Hold the broker to this, and the new job will get easier. Expect more than simply an annual stewardship report. Ask the broker to be proactive and make suggestions about your workers compensation program. Many brokers provide our workers compensation manual  to their clients at no charge, so make sure you get one from your broker if available, otherwise, purchase it directly from us.

9. Know the return to work program.

The better the company’s transitional duty program, also known as modified duty or light duty, the quicker and faster the workers compensation claims will come to an end. The company is going to be paying the cost of the indemnity benefits through higher workers comp premiums. To reduce the cost of those benefits, return the employee to modified duty. While the injured employee may not be as productive as an uninjured employee, all the productivity of the injured employee on light duty is benefiting the company to some extent while reducing the cost of the claim. Use the transitional duty calculator to demonstrate cost savings.

10. Review the claim files.

If asked, most third party administrators or insurance companies will arrange online access to the claim file notes where the adjuster records the activities and events of the claim. While the file notes are helpful, they do not tell the whole story. Go to the claims office and read everything in the claim files. The claims office will probably try to talk you into doing an on-line review, but an in-person review with the adjuster(s) about the claims will provide the most information.