Workers’ compensation insurance benefits both the employer and employee and plays a significant role in connecting injured workers to the care they need to return to work quickly and safely. An effective workers’ compensation program reduces your risk of a catastrophic financial loss and decreases the possibility of legal action. By remaining educated on industry trends, responding appropriately and making relevant program adjustments, you can create a successful workers’ compensation program.
Do not let your organization fall behind in this evolving risk landscape. Review the following guidance regarding workers’ compensation trends to watch.
The Impact of COVID-19
Organizational adjustments, including remote work, employee role alterations, furloughs and temporary operational stoppages, impact workers’ compensation reporting and premium costs. Additionally, several states have enacted legislation and executive orders expanding workers’ compensation coverage for certain industries (e.g., health care workers and first responders). Many workers’ compensation claims in 2020 were COVID-19 related, including exposures that lead to death or extended hospitalization. Developments on these claims could escalate as the long-term health consequences from COVID-19 become influential. Your organization should implement workplace health and safety measures to help protect your staff from COVID-19 exposure and limit the likelihood of related claims.
The Adoption of Telemedicine
Telemedicine can be extremely useful in situations where virtual medical care can assist in avoiding the risk of in-person visits or adjusted clinical schedules. Providing employees with this easy-access medical care following an injury can offer several benefits to your workers’ compensation program. Transportation and time savings limit physical trips and minimize treatment delays. Additionally, it can minimize employer expenses and improve the precision of claim compensation evaluations. Telemedicine can be an invaluable tool for you to manage smaller workers’ compensation claims and accelerate your employee’s safe return to work.
The Impact of Mega Claims
Restrictions from the pandemic have forced many court postponements resulting in litigation delays. These deferments can influence claims to experience escalating administrative costs. Mega claims, those totaling $3 million or more in losses, have surged in frequency. Lasting impacts from mega claims include hefty costs, lost time and potential for reputational damage. Factors such as mortality patterns, medical advances and rising health care costs have contributed to the rise of mega claims. To combat these cases, it is critical to intensify your safety efforts—especially when attempting to prevent falls, motor vehicle accidents and struck-by accidents.
The Rise in Comorbidities
Comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of two or more medical diagnoses for an individual. Common conditions include obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. The increase in workers’ compensation costs is likely attributed toward claims that involve comorbidities. The long-term mental and physical effects of COVID-19 are uncertain, but there is recognition of its potential to impact future claims for years to come. The mental and physical strain from the pandemic has contributed to the rise of individuals experiencing comorbidities. To combat the impact of these risks, employers have found success implementing wellness initiatives. Improving the overall wellbeing of your staff could reduce the severity of workers’ compensation claims.
The Concern of Key Labor Trends
Businesses have recently experienced challenges filling jobs with experienced workers and consequently resolved to hire a large number of inexperienced workers. Unfortunately this practice comes with workers’ compensation risks. Inexperienced personnel can lack safety training and may be more willing to take unnecessary risks. The past decade has also brought forward an aging workforce. Workers’ compensation claims generally increase as an employee ages. These trends prioritize the need for your organization to promote a safe working culture and injury prevention. This can include conducting routine safety training and implementing effective workplace safety policies.
The Results of Marijuana Legalization
Medical marijuana is now legal in 36 states, and recreational marijuana is authorized in 15 states. Your organization will need to review any changes in your state’s legislation and adjust your workers’ compensation program accordingly. If your state has legalized medical marijuana, please consult legal counsel to ensure your workers’ compensation program supports compliant treatment options. Recreational marijuana should be treated similarly to alcohol consumption in the workplace and prohibited during working hours. It can affect employee capabilities to perform tasks safely and increase the likelihood of injuries.
We’re Here to Help
You do not have to respond to the changing landscape of workers’ compensation alone. We are here to help you navigate these industry trends with ease. For additional resources, risk management guidance or insurance solutions, please connect with a member of our team.