Just like any other insurance, workers’ compensation is a “just in case” plan you hope you’ll never need. But if you do need, it’ll save your butt a million ways and you’ll be so glad you have it. Workers’ compensation provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment. Employers that ensure worker safety and implement best practices before they need them are in the best position to protect employees, keep claims manageable, and maybe even keep premiums down. And let’s just get one of the most basic points out of the way: Anyone with employees needs workers’ compensation. Yep, everyone.
Four Steps to Mitigate Workers’ Compensation Risk
Step One: Prevent
Chase prevention like you would chase the crisis or you’ll certainly end up chasing a crisis. Make regular safety meetings, ongoing education, and performance metrics standard procedure. If you don’t have the budget to implement every possible safety measure, you don’t have the budget for the project. The best workers’ comp claim is the one that never happens.
Step Two: Plan
Instead of scrambling to figure out how you’ll handle a claim if it comes up, take steps ahead of time. Make sure reserves are accurate. Have a standard operating procedure. Decide who will talk to the adjuster and within what time frame. Taking the time to lay out your processes while your brain isn’t in crisis mode means you make sounder decisions. The added benefit is that it will reassure your adjuster that you’re engaged and motivated to reach a speedy resolution.
Step Three: Implement
Implement a return to work program and have a plan for injured workers who have been cleared for modified duty. These measures reassure insurance companies while demonstrating professionalism to employees.
Step Four: Invest
Invest in accurate worker classification. An independent contractor filing a workers’ comp claim can easily land a well-intentioned company on IRS and DOL radar screens. This happens with surprising frequency despite the logical assumption that an independent contractor should understand the implications of a business-to-business relationship. One key aspect of a true B2B relationship is that a worker’s business activity exists independent of the employer. Preventing misclassification and communicating clearly with workers is a worthwhile preventative investment.
COVID-19 has changed workers’ comp in the short term, but its effects will continue to be felt. The issue is ever-evolving in any environment–with or without a pandemic. Analysts anticipate continued changes for the workers’ compensation industry ahead. Workers’ compensation carriers may face declining profits and escalating claims costs and operating expenses. Companies that address the subject proactively will be in the best position to ensure minimal premium increases. Aside from cost, keeping employees safe is forever a worthwhile investment.