February '18

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188 • RV PRO • February 2018 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S organizations (PEO's)," Moore suggests. "Many of them are accustomed to han- dling smaller accounts with higher risks. They also provide other fee-based ser- vices, which often allows them to pro- vide workers compensation insurance at a more economical price. Finally, they often are willing to take on employers that might be rejected by insurance carriers." Employers who are turned down by insurance carriers are forced to use the state pools, where premiums may run up to 25 percent higher than those in the pri- vate sector. Service also may be less than optimal. For example, there may be no one who will run an ergonomic review to help an employer reduce injuries. Keep in Touch No one wants to experience the pain and cost of an accident, but the expe- rience can be mitigated by an under- standing employer. "Once an accident occurs, stay in close contact with the injured worker," Burton says. "Helping workers get back into employment as quickly as possible is an excellent way to help reduce expenses that may lead to premium hikes." That's because the employee who returns to work will be collecting less com- pensation from the carrier – not only for lost salary, but also for medical expenses. Employees are likely to be enthusiastic about any program that gets them back to work early. That's because they will be compensated at their normal salary rather than at the partial level mandated by the workers compensation system. Bear in mind, too, that adjustors will suspend the workers compensation claims of those employees who refuse offered positions – even if those posi- tions are for less-demanding duties not normally performed. One final tip: Don't take claims personally. "Understand that every employer is going to face an occasional workers com- pensation claim," Adelson says. "Good management is usually a matter of miti- gating rather than avoiding losses." Future Shock: Beware These Cost Drivers A number of factors may contribute to an increase in workers compensation premiums in the years ahead. One is the rising cost of health insurance, with its attendant change in employee cost participation. "An employee who has a $5,000 annual health care deductible might be more inclined to attribute an injury to workplace duties," says Daniel C. Free, president and general counsel of Insurance Audit & Inspection in Indianapolis. Drug prices, too, can play a role. "As drug prices go up, insurance companies may try to recover their higher costs through premium hikes." Another potential cost driver is the recent trend toward legalization of the medical and recreational use of marijuana. "Suppose your employee obtains a prescription for medical marijuana," Free says. "Can you lawfully deny the drug's use? Maybe so, if the employee is in a high-risk job, but maybe not if the individual works in a low-risk setting." In such cases, there are bound to be questions as to whether injuries arise from workplace conditions or from cognitive impairment resulting from mar- ijuana use. "That's a puzzle piece that has yet to be figured out," Free says. Finally, state regulators can make changes that impact premiums. Business owners should stay alert to what their state has planned in the areas of pro- posed increases in benefit levels, additions to the list of compensable injuries, or new entries to drug formularies. "State insurance commissioners have a lot of authority regarding regulations, fines and penalties," Free says. "You can stay abreast of what is happening by monitoring the website of your state department of insurance." – Phillip M. Perry

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