Workers’ compensation insurance, or simply workers’ comp, is not just a legal requirement in some states–it’s an investment in your staff’s security. The precise rules vary from state to state, but the general rule is that your business must take out workers’ compensation insurance for employees that pays out if they are injured at work.
In principle, the workers’ comp payouts will cover medical bills, care costs and a portion of any lost wages. Plus, in the worst-case scenario, workers’ compensation insurance will cover funeral costs and death benefits.
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Are you about to hire your next workers' compensation claim? In an effort to get a position filled quickly, you may take shortcuts that could cost you thousands of dollars.
Prospective employees should be required to complete a pre-hire physical. A copy of the intended job description can then be given to the medical provider with the physical requirements of the position. This helps to ensure only those capable of doing the job are hired and keeps other employees safe.
Education and Injury Reporting
Often times employees don’t understand the workers' compensation process and may be afraid to report a claim for fear of losing their job or impacting a daily count of injury-free days that are tied to an incentive program.
Educate employees on the workers' compensation system. During the hiring process, consider explaining how workers' compensation coverage protects your employee when an injury occurs. Your employees should understand that it is their responsibility to report an injury immediately and follow the company’s guidelines for seeking medical attention. Explain your return to work policy and have your employees sign an agreement stating they understand the process.
Your employee may become injured and you might be tempted to rely on someone else to communicate with them. As a result, your employee may be confused by the workers' compensation process and unsure where to turn.
You and your supervisors need to stay in constant communication with your employees. Your insurance broker can provide some coaching and guidance throughout the process. Above all, your employees should feel that you care about their injuries and that you will be involved in helping them recover. Your direct supervisors play a key role in this process and should be trained to effectively communicate with your employees throughout the injury.
Return to Work Program
When your employees become injured, they may need time to recover. As an employer, you may be tempted to rely solely on the workers' compensation insurance company and/or your employee’s medical provider to communicate throughout the process. If you do, the process can become unnecessarily prolonged.
As the employer, let your insurance company and your employee’s medical provider know that you have a return to work program in place. Ask the medical provider to refer to the job description that has been provided for the injured employee. As soon as the employee is medically cleared, offer a light duty position and ask them to report to work. If needed, your employee can continue to receive treatment while they continue to recover.
Payroll Audits and EMR
Statistically, your company’s Experience Modification Rate (EMR) has more than a 70% chance of being incorrect. Your EMR is a number used by insurance companies to gauge any past cost of injuries and future chances of risk. In addition, over 80% of payroll audits are done incorrectly. Both factors impact your workers' compensation coverage.
Trust your insurance advisor and have them assist and advocate during the annual payroll audit conducted by the insurance company. Your agent should also monitor all claims, but especially claims reserved over a $10,000 threshold. Larger claims should have a quarterly report prepared by your insurance agent to let you know the status of the claim. Your agent should work with your insurance company’s claims adjustor to close any claims as quickly as possible.
Medical Provider Communication
Claims can remain open longer than needed due to poor communication between you and your employee’s medical provider. As a result, you may be unaware that your employee is well enough to return to work on a modified basis.
Get to know the doctors that are helping your employee heal. Your insurance broker should foster this relationship by assisting you in the selection of the medical provider prior to a claim. Meet with the medical provider, interview them, tour their facilities, ask them to tour your location, and explain your return to work program. Job descriptions can be provided to the medical provider and an agreement of services can be achieved. Once a claim takes place, a clear line of communication should be established so you are kept aware of your employee’s status.
Sometimes employees are trained to do a job well, but are not trained to do their job safely. Many work-related injuries can be avoided by effective training.
Your insurance broker should be able to organize monthly training classes. Many insurance carriers offer training tools at no charge and your broker can help you utilize these tools to your advantage. For example, topics such as proper lifting techniques can be critical for many job functions. Also, using tools like payroll stuffers can be very effective.
Many employers are concerned about their next OSHA visit. Worried about citations and fines, employers see OSHA as the enemy. Sound familiar?
OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential safety and occupational health advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.
There are often harsh legal penalties for businesses that don’t carry workers’ comp. But, aside from that, workers’ comp insurance can also help your business, as it makes sure staff get adequate medical treatment that help them return to work fit and healthy.
Many workers’ compensation insurance policies go beyond the legal minimums and will also pay your legal costs if an employee sues over a workplace injury.
While you can get standalone workers’ compensation policies, you can also often buy workers’ comp coverage as an add-on to other policies, such as a business owners policy (BOP), general liability insurance or professional liability insurance.
Our insurance experts are ready to help you determine the best method for obtaining proper workers’ comp insurance for your business.