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Reduce Workers’ Comp Costs With Exoskeleton Technology

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Mar 06, 2021

Lower Your Workers’ Comp Insurance Costs in Philadelphia, Erie, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Allentown, PA and Elsewhere With Exoskeleton Technology .Would you be surprised to discover that technology used in sci-fi movies, such as Iron Man, could actually help reduce your Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs? In the film, Tony Stark builds an armored suit that allows him to save the world – more than once. The armored suit is a souped-up version of exoskeleton technology, which some businesses are now using to avoid workplace injuries and help injured employees return to work faster.

What is Exoskeleton Technology?

Exoskeleton technology is not a new concept. It has been in development since the late 1800s. Exoskeletons are “wearable devices that work in tandem with the user.” They are placed on a person and “act as amplifiers that augment, reinforce or restore human performance.” 

Using pneumatics, levers, hydraulics, and electric motors, exoskeletons can help employees move heavier objects and work longer hours, reduce injuries, avoid repetitive trauma injuries, and get employees back to work more quickly after an injury. While exoskeleton technology is most commonly employed in military applications, businesses are quickly discovering many benefits of the technology. 

How Can Exoskeleton Technology Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs?

Lower workplace injuries and the number of claims, and you lower your WC costs. Get injured employees back to work as quickly and safely possible, and you lower WC costs. Exoskeleton Technology has shown to do both. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one of the most common and costly types of workplace injuries is repetitive strain injuries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that nearly two-thirds of all occupational illnesses reported were caused by exposure to repeated trauma to workers’ upper body. 

According to Ford Motor Company, its assembly line workers lift their arms during overhead work tasks approximately 4,600 times per day or about one million times a year and concludes, “At this rate, the possibility of fatigue or injury on the body increases significantly.” 

In 2005, Ford began using an EksoVest on many of its production lines to help lessen worker fatigue and injuries. The EksoVest is wearable technology that “elevates and supports a worker’s arms while performing overhead tasks. It can be fitted to support workers ranging from 5 feet tall to 6 feet 4 inches tall and provides adjustable lift assistance of five pounds to 15 pounds per arm. It’s comfortable to wear because it’s lightweight, it isn’t bulky, and it allows workers to move their arms freely.” 

Ford reports, “Between 2005 and 2016, the most recent full year of data, the company saw an 83 percent decrease in the number of incidents that resulted in days away, work restrictions or job transfers – to an all-time low of 1.55 incidents per 100 full-time North American employees.” 

While there is an upfront cost to exoskeleton technology, more companies are finding it’s worth the price. The technology helps reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries; thereby, minimizing the costs associated with workplace injuries, such as lost production, lower employee morale, etc. Plus, they’re getting injured employees back to work more quickly. All of this is leading to lower Workers’ Compensation costs. 

Exoskeleton technology is no longer limited to science fiction movies but has practical applications in today’s workplace that can help lower Workers’ Compensation costs. 

Learn More on How to Save on Workers’ Compensation Insurance!

As Workers’ Comp Insurance experts, the American Insuring Group agents can help you save big on  Workers’ Compensation and other business insurance needs. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online for a free workers comp insurance quote today!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs

How Pre-Employment Tests Can Lower WC Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jan 16, 2021

How to Use Pre-Employment Tests to Lower WC Costs in Reading, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Allentown, Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania and elsewhere.Workers’ Compensation Insurance (WC) is designed to protect employers and employees from financial loss when an employee is injured on the job or becomes ill from a work-related cause.

It bears repeating that WC is meant for WORK-RELATED illnesses and injuries.

But consider this, according to AARP, more than 19 million working Americans between the ages of 21 and 64 have some physical limitation that could affect their ability to perform certain tasks. According to the CDC, the most common type of disability (one in seven adults) affects mobility, and with age, disabilities become more common.

That means there’s about a 10% chance that a potential new-hire could have a pre-existing impairment – knowingly or unknowingly - that could put them at risk for an injury.

While that person should still be able to get whatever benefits they are entitled to, his or her employer should not be responsible for paying for an injury caused by a condition the employee had before they were hired. But how would you know if a potential hire has a pre-existing impairment? A pre-employment human performance evaluation (HPE)!

The Americans with Disabilities Act allows employers to physically and medically evaluate their workers at all stages of their employment. After an individual is offered a job, the employer can make the job contingent on several things, such as a background check, drug test, and pre-employment testing.

Keep in mind that The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cautions, “Pre-employment tests need to be selected and monitored with care; employers run the risk of litigation if a selection decision is challenged and determined to be discriminatory or in violation of state or federal regulations. Tests used in the selection process must be legal, reliable, valid, and equitable, and HR professionals need to stay aware of any developing trends.”

What is a Pre-Employment Human Performance Evaluation?

The pre-employment HPE (also called a pre-placement test) is a standardized test often conducted in a physical therapy or occupational medical clinic. It helps companies get an overview of the prospective employee’s overall health status and make better choices when hiring new candidates.

An HPE can do the following:

  1. Assure employers that the prospective employee is physically able to perform a job safely
  2. Protect employers from WC injury claims that are not work-related, but the result of a pre-existing impairment
  3. Protect employees from injuries while performing jobs they should not be doing due to a pre-existing impairment
  4. Protect the employees’ co-workers

According to Concentra, a national health care company, information commonly collected during this test includes:

  • A review of the workers’ medical and occupational history
  • A medical exam
  • An evaluation of functional tasks such as lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling

The test can also be used to establish a baseline so an employer can monitor any changes in the employee’s health over time and use it for future reference in the event of an injury. This information often shows that only part of an employee’s injury is caused by his or her current work.

For example, an HPE may reveal that a worker has a 5% impairment in his or her shoulder. If that employee is injured and is determined to have a 7% impairment, the employer would only be responsible for the additional 2% impairment under Workers’ Compensation insurance.

Employers don’t want to pay for injuries or illnesses that were not caused on the job, and a pre-employment HPE – that follows all legal requirements – can help minimize that risk.

Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs!

Another way to save on WC costs is to work with one of the experienced agents at American Insuring Group. We specialize in WC insurance, and we're independent agents, which frees us to quote lots of competing insurance providers so that you get the right coverage at the best price.

Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Return-To-Work Programs

Safety Hazards Can Be Found in Any Workplace

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Dec 12, 2020

Improving workplace safety can help lower Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Erie, Lancaster, and in counties throughout Pennsylvania.We often discuss how improving workplace safety can help lower Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs, and we typically focus on very hazardous industries, such as construction. But every workplace has its share of hazards that can cause employee injuries.

The National Safety Council reports that a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. What may surprise you is the three most common types of injuries that keep workers away from work are sprains, strains, or tears; soreness or pain; and cuts, lacerations, or punctures. The three most common workplace injuries resulting in lost workdays include overexertion, contact with objects or equipment, and slips, trips, and falls.

While these types of injuries may be more prevalent at construction sites and other obviously dangerous workplaces, they can happen at just about any worksite – even a seemingly safe office setting. For example, an employee can lift a heavy box of office supplies improperly and experience overexertion. Or someone can fail to clean up spilled coffee in the breakroom, causing someone else to slip and fall.

Minimizing accidents can help lower your WC Insurance costs because there is a specific formula for determining the cost of your WC insurance:

Premium = (Payroll/$100) x Class Code Rate x Experience Rate Modification

Your experience rate modifier, often called MOD, is a numeric representation of your claim experience. The number is based on how your claims compare with other companies with a similar classification of employees. Employers with fewer than average and less severe accidents than average will have a lower MOD, which will help lower the cost of WC Insurance.

Whether you are looking at employees in a highly hazardous occupation like construction or a less hazardous occupation like an office setting, minimizing workplace injuries can help lower WC and other costs. The first step to lowering injuries is to identify and assess potential hazards.

Here are the types of hazards you should look for:

Safety Hazards are unsafe working conditions that can potentially cause illness, injury, or death, such as spills that aren’t cleaned up, frayed cords, and confined spaces.

Physical Hazards include exposure to extreme temperatures, the sun, radiation, or loud noise.

Chemical Hazards include dangerous chemicals in any form (solid, liquid, or gas) and can occur during the use, transfer, or storage of those chemicals. Potentially dangerous chemicals include cleaning products, pesticides, gasoline, paints, etc.

Microbiological Hazards can include exposure to mold, sewage, airborne illnesses, insects that bite or sting, poisonous plants, animal feces, etc. This is one of the most commonly overlooked hazards.

Electrical Hazards include damaged equipment, overhead powerlines, improper grounding, overloaded circuits, etc. Even improperly used extension cords can become a safety hazard to employees.

Ergonomic Hazards can be found in uncomfortable workstations, repetitive movements, poor body positioning, or anything that puts a strain on an employee’s body. These can be the most difficult to spot because the strain isn’t always noticed immediately. Discover more about minimizing ergonomic hazards here.

Organizational Hazards is a broad category that includes workplace violence, high stress, excessive workplace demands, lack of respect, or sexual harassment. It can also include housekeeping hazards, such as blocked fire exits, cluttered desks, and over-stacking loads.

Here's How to Save a Bundle on Workers’ Compensation Insurance!

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. We'll make sure that you get the right coverage at the best price. That's because we're free to shop the market for you, unlike those single-brand agencies.

So call us today to start saving at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Safety Programs

20 Eye-Opening Stats to Help Improve Worksite Safety

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Nov 14, 2020

Lower Your Contractor Insurance Cost by Learning from These Statistics. Serving Philadelphia, Berks County, PA and Beyond.Most contractors understand that fewer workplace injuries create lower employee turnover, higher employee morale, lower Contractors Insurance costs, and a slew of other benefits for both employers and employees.

But do you ever feel like you’re beating your head against the wall when you try to explain the importance of workplace safety to your workers?

Too often, younger employees feel invincible, and older employees become complacent, so it’s up to you to make them understand the importance of safety and the impact a lack of safety can have on them and their families.

One surefire way to do that is with cold, hard eye-opening facts and stats like those below.

20 safety facts to share with your employees

  1. One out of every ten construction workers is injured on the job every year.
  2. There is an average of two deaths every day in the construction industry.
  3. Non-fatal injury rates in construction are 71% higher than any other industry.
  4. Every year, one in five work-related deaths are in construction.
  5. Another way to say it - nearly 20% of all work-related deaths were in the construction industry.
  6. Over a 45-year career in the construction industry, there’s a 75% likelihood that a worker will experience a disabling injury and a one in 200 chance that an employee will die due to a workplace injury.
  7. 60% of construction workplace accidents happen during an employee’s first year on the job.
  8. OSHA’s “Fatal Four” - falls, struck by, electrocutions, caught-in/between - caused 58.6% of construction worker deaths in 2018.
  9. Eliminating deaths caused by the “Fatal Four” would save 591 construction workers in the U.S. every year.
  10. Falls account for the largest number of “Fatal Four” deaths (33.5%).
  11. Of all the industries, construction has the most fatal falls, representing 51% of all falls nationally.
  12. Fall protection is the most frequently cited OSHA standard following OSHA Inspections.
  13. Struck by object injuries account for 11.1% of “Fatal Four” deaths.
  14. Electrocutions account for 8.5% of “Fatal Four” deaths.
  15. Caught-in/between injuries account for 5.5% of “Fatal Four” deaths.
  16. In 2018, construction workers between the ages of 35-44 were more likely to experience a non-fatal injury (19,410) in the U.S.
  17. In 2018, construction workers between the ages of 45-54 had the highest number of fatal injuries (228) in the U.S.
  18. While older workers are injured less frequently than their younger co-workers, their injuries tend to be more severe and take longer to recover from.
  19. Between 2003 to 2016, construction companies with fewer than 20 employees accounted for 56.6% of the industry’s 5,155 fatalities.
  20. Not a statistic, but a fact – the majority of construction work-site injuries and deaths are avoidable.

Act Now to Save on Contractors Insurance!

Another way to save on Contractors Insurance is to work with one of the independent agents at American Insuring Group who specialize in Contractors Insurance. We understand your needs, so we can ensure that you have the right coverage, and we check with many competing insurance companies to ensure you pay the lowest rate on that great coverage. Give us a call now at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

 

These statistics were gathered from a variety of sources, including the following:

  • OSHA
  • Safety + Health magazine
  • National Safety Council
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
  • S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Big Rentz
  • The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

Tags: Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

5 Benefits of Prompt WC Insurance Claims Reporting

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 25, 2020

Promptly filing your workers comp claims can help lower your WC insurance costs.You’ve purchased the appropriate Workers’ Compensation (WC) Insurance, as required by Pennsylvania law. That’s a significant first step to protecting your employees and your business, but there’s more to a healthy WC program, including the prompt reporting of injuries and claims.

We understand that you have a lot on your plate and may wear many hats, but not reporting a claim promptly can have a negative impact on your WC program, your business, your injured employee, and your worker's comp insurance costs.

5 Reasons Prompt Reporting of Workplace Injuries and WC Claims is Crucial to Your Business

Preserve Evidence

When an injury occurs, it’s essential that the injury is investigated as quickly as possible, or you could risk losing crucial evidence. Therefore, as soon as an injury occurs, someone should document details of the injury, investigate to try to determine how the injury occurred, interview the employee and any witnesses, and of course, ensure that the injured employee receives appropriate medical attention.

Lower Cost of Claims

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) found that the median cost of WC insurance claims that were reported between one day and two weeks were “significantly lower,” and the cost rose as the time it took to report a claim rose. The bottom line is that delayed reporting can increase WC claim costs up to 51%.

Better Medical treatment

When an injured employee receives prompt medical treatment from competent, in-network healthcare providers, they are more likely to receive a proper diagnosis and effective treatment to heal faster.

Plus, even seemingly minor injuries can escalate into more significant issues if they are not immediately looked at by a medical professional.

Quicker Return to Work

The sooner you can get an injured employee back to work safely, the better it is for everyone – the injured employee, co-workers, and your business. Having a return to work program can shorten the length of time an injured worker is out of work by an average of 3.6 weeks, according to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.

Health providers who are familiar with treating workers’ compensation injuries will focus on facilitating an early return to work for the injured employee. The sooner the injury is reported, the sooner that process can begin.

Decrease in Litigation

Promptly reporting an injury and keeping in touch with the injured employee throughout the claim process helps reduce employee’s fears and makes them feel as if their employer cares about them and is treating them fairly. According to NCCI research, this all translates to a lower chance of litigation.

Fraud Prevention

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), “Workers’ compensation claimant fraud and medical fraud are significant contributors to our nation’s annual $30 billion insurance fraud problem.”

Prompt reporting of an injury helps ensure 1) the injured worker receives proper medical treatment, 2) the injured worker feels they’ve been treated fairly, and 3) allows a better investigation of the incident. All this helps minimize fraud.

Quicker Closure

The longer a claim remains open, the more resources you have to use. Promptly reporting an employee injury can get an employee back to work and the claim closed more quickly.

Safer Workplace

When an injury is reported and investigated quickly, you are more likely to recognize safety issues, correct them, and ensure the safety of your employees.

One More Step: Lower Workers Compensation Insurance Costs

If you want to learn more about how to get the lowest cost on WC Insurance and other commercial insurance, give the independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. We shop and compare competing insurance carriers to get you the best rates on quality insurance protection. Call today.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Workers Compensation Insurance Fraud

Workers Compensation Basics: What Employers Need to Know

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 26, 2020

The basics on reducing the cost of workers comp insurance in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, and throughout Pennsylvania.One of the most important types of insurance that almost every business needs is Workers' Compensation Insurance (WC). It helps protect both employees and employers when there is a work-related injury or illness. In Pennsylvania, most employers are required by law to carry WC for their employees.

For many employers, WC is one of the most expensive types of insurance they need to carry, which is why working with an insurance agent who has experience with WC – like those at American Insuring Group - is essential to keeping those costs as low as possible.

They say knowledge is power, so here are the basics every employer should understand about Workers' Compensation Insurance.

What is Workers' Compensation?

If a worker is injured in the workplace or becomes ill because of his or her work environment, Workers' Compensation helps cover medical costs and lost wages if the employee is not able to work. It doesn't matter who or what caused the injury – a faulty machine, the employee, a co-worker, etc. - WC will pay those expenses.

In Pennsylvania, WC covers health care expenses (doctor's visits, surgery, etc.), ongoing care (such as physical therapy), illnesses, repetitive injuries (such as carpal tunnel syndrome), partial or total disability payments, permanent injury payments, and death benefits.

WC also benefits the employer by limiting an injured employee's right to sue an employer directly for damages that injury or illness causes.

Who is Required to Carry Workers' Compensation?

The Department of Labor & Industry states, "If you employ workers in Pennsylvania, you must have workers' compensation insurance -- it's the law." This includes both full and part-time employees, even if they are family members.

The only exceptions are If ALL employees fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Federal workers
  • Longshoremen
  • Railroad workers
  • Casual workers
  • Persons working out of their own homes or other premises not under the control of management
  • Agricultural laborers making less than $1200 per calendar year
  • Domestic workers who have not elected to come under the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act
  • Sole proprietors or general partners
  • Those who have been given an exemption by the Department of Labor and Industry due to religious beliefs
  • Executive officers who have been granted exclusion by the Department of Labor and Industry
  • Licensed real estate salespersons or associate real estate brokers affiliated with a licensed real estate broker or a licensed insurance agent affiliated with a licensed insurance agency, under a written agreement, remunerated on a commission-only basis and qualifying as independent contractors for State tax purposes or for Federal tax purposes under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

If a business does not qualify for one of these exceptions, it must carry Workers' Compensation Insurance for its employees. Failure to do so can result in the employer being required to pay back any costs paid by the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund or a work-related injury or illness, including interest, penalties, and fees. An uninsured employer may also face civil and criminal risks that can result in fines and imprisonment.

How Much Does Workers' Compensation Insurance Cost?

How much you pay for WC is based on a formula:

RATE x (PAYROLL/100) x EXPERIENCE MODIFIER = PREMIUM

An employee's classification code determines the RATE. Those codes are based on the likelihood of that employee being injured on the job. Employees doing more dangerous jobs, such as construction workers, will have a higher rating than someone in a less dangerous job, such as office workers.

A projection of your payroll determines PAYROLL.

Your business's loss history determines the EXPERIENCE MODIFIER compared with the average loss history in your industry. An experience modifier of one is average. A lower number will reflect a better than average loss history, and a higher number will reflect a loss history that is worse than the average. The lower your experience modifier number, the lower your WC rates. 

 

How Can You Lower Workers' Compensation Insurance Costs?

An independent insurance agent who specializes in WC - like those at American Insuring Group – can help ensure you pay the lowest premium possible. By searching among many competing insurance carriers, we obtain the right insurance at the lowest price possible. So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs

Workplace Ergonomics Minimizes Injury and Lowers WC Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jun 27, 2020

Workplace ergonomics can impact Workers Compensation Insurance costs in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Lancaster, Erie, PA and throughout the US. We often focus on minimizing Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs in potentially dangerous workplaces such as restaurants and construction sites: however, office spaces are not immune to workplace injuries.

One of the most significant work-related injuries in an office are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). According to OSHA, “Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are the most widespread occupational health hazard facing our Nation today.” Every year, almost two million workers suffer from work-related MSDs, and approximately 600,000 of those workers lose time from work due to the MSD.

OSHA estimates the direct cost of MSDs to be between $15 and $20 billion every year, with total yearly costs in the $45 to $54 billion range. Plus, $1 out of every $3 spent on WC is a result of insufficient ergonomic protection, which can help avoid MSDs.

What Are Musculoskeletal Disorders?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the Department of Labor describes MSDs as “musculoskeletal system and connective tissue diseases and disorders when the event or exposure leading to the case is bodily reaction (e.g., bending, climbing, crawling, reaching, twisting), overexertion, or repetitive motion.” MSDs affect joints, bones, muscles, the spine, etc. Examples of MSDs include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, degenerative disc disease, and tension neck syndrome.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes work-related MSDs as conditions in which “the work environment and performance of work contribute significantly to the condition; and/or the condition is made worse or persists longer due to work conditions.”

What is Workplace Ergonomics?

Workplace ergonomics - the science of fitting a job to a person so that they can work safely, without injury or pain - can help prevent MSDs, thereby reducing workplace injury and reducing Workers’ Comp and other expenses. A bonus is that it can actually improve a worker’s productivity.

Often, a few simple adjustments can make a huge difference, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot.

Ergonomics in the Office

Occupational Health & Safety reports that workers spend an average of 1,700 hours per year in front of a computer screen. That’s more than 70 days every year sitting at a desk. Sitting in the same position for long periods of time can cause pain and injury and lead to MSDs. Many office workers don’t even realize that they are sitting in awkward postures that can affect their health and safety.

Here are some of the most common ergonomic problems in an office:

  • Monitors are too low, which forces flexion of the cervical spine.
  • Armrests are not used properly or not at all, which can cause tensions in the neck, shoulders, and trapezius muscles.
  • The mouse is not aligned with the shoulder, which can cause pain in the neck, wrist, and upper limbs.
  • Workers use phones without a headset, which can cause pain in the shoulder and spine.

Here are some tips to improve office ergonomics:

  • An office chair should allow for height adjustment so that the worker can sit with his or her knees at a 90-degree angle. It should also have adequate lumbar support and armrests, so elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
  • The desk and chair should allow enough space for the user to cross their legs. Users should be able to rest their feet flat on the floor, so use a footrest if needed.
  • Pad the edges of the desk if there are hard edges.
  • A monitor should be placed, so the top is at or just below eye level and is an arm’s length away. The brightest light source should be to the side to avoid glare.
  • The mouse should be directly in line with the shoulder, so the wrist remains straight.
  • The height of the keyboard should allow the user to keep their wrists straight while typing.
  • A phone should be held in one hand, or the user should use a headset.

MyAbilities offers a tool called Rapid Office Strain Assessment (ROSA), which is a self-guided self-assessment that shows workers how to adjust their workstation to prevent discomfort and injury.

Want to Save Even More on Workers’ Compensation?

Creating safe workplaces to avoid injuries is the best way to reduce WC costs. Another way to save on all commercial insurance costs is to work with one of the independent agents at American Insuring Group who specialize in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online to see how we can help you save on your Workers’ Compensation and other insurance costs.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Safety Programs

Is a Workers Comp Insurance Loss-Sensitive Plan Right for You?

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Apr 18, 2020

save_workers_comp_insuranceMore and more employers are moving away from the traditional guaranteed Workers’ Compensation Insurance plans into loss-sensitive plans. Loss-sensitive plans can help some businesses save money, but for others, a loss-sensitive plan can cost a company more than a guaranteed plan.

How do you know which type of Workers’ Compensation plan will yield the highest return for your business? Here are three tips to help.

Understand the Different Types of Loss-Sensitive Plans Available.

Retrospective Rating Plans

The Insurance Journal defines a retrospective rating plan as a plan “in which the final premium is based on the insured’s actual loss experience during the policy term, subject to a minimum and maximum premium, with the final premium determined by a formula which is guaranteed in the insurance contract.”

With a retrospective rating plan, an employer pays a standard premium - a combination of a basic premium and a loss projection - at the beginning of the policy year. After eighteen months, the insurer uses the employer’s actual losses to calculate a retro premium. If the retro premium is lower than the standard premium, the employer receives a premium from the insurer for the difference. If the retro premium is higher than the standard premium, the employer has to pay an additional premium.

Typically, there is a cap on the additional premium (usually 1.20 times the standard premium) an employer must pay.

Large Deductible Plan

A large-deductible plan is basically a guaranteed WC plan that includes the employer self-insuring part of its compensation losses with a large deductible. With this type of plan, the employer pays a lower premium but is then required to set up an escrow fund and reimburse the insurance company for claims up to a certain dollar amount.

Captives

The Insurance Journal defines captives as “any insurance company that is owned by one or more organizations, and that insures only the owners of the company.” There are typically two types of captives used for WC. One is a single owner, where the company that is insured has complete control over everything, including investments, operations, etc. The other type is a rent-a-captive, which is owned and run by an organization other than the insured, such as a broker, a fronting insurance carrier, etc.

Understand Your Risk Tolerance

The advantage of a guaranteed Workers’ Compensation Insurance plan is that your premiums are very predictable. You can put it into your budget and not worry about it. The cost of loss-sensitive plans can vary significantly. You can include an estimate in your budget, but the actual cost can vary, along with the frequency and timing of payments.

IF your company has a low tolerance for risk, a guaranteed plan may be a better choice. However, if you’ve created an effective safety program, provided all of your employees with appropriate safety training, have a robust return-to-work program, and have minimized workplace injuries, your loss projections should be reasonably accurate. Therefore, you may want to consider taking on more risk with a loss-sensitive plan. You’ve reduced risk within your organization, and a loss-sensitive plan could provide a higher return on your investment.

Consider the Financial Impact of Each Type of Plan

You should understand the impact each type of plan will have on your cash flow and the tax implications of each. A guaranteed cost plan may cost you more; however, it provides consistent payments, and you know how much you’re going to pay. You can put the cost of your premiums into the budget and not worry about it.

However, a loss-sensitive program can offer cash flow advantages because you’re paying for claims as they occur rather than paying an insurance company upfront for expenses that may not occur for months or even years.

Need More Help Lowering Workers’ Compensation Costs?

American Insuring Group is committed to providing the best insurance coverage at the best price. First, we offer blogs for a variety of industries to help improve workplace safety, which will help lower WC costs.

Plus, we are independent agents who specialize in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Commercial Insurance, Return-To-Work Programs

Reduce Workers’ Comp Insurance Costs With Vocational Rehabilitation

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 15, 2020

How to Reduce Workers Compensation Insurance Costs with Vocational RehabilitationVocational rehabilitation (VR) is one of the benefits of Workers’ Compensation Insurance. It can benefit both the injured employee and their employer by getting the employee back to work more quickly, thereby reducing the costs associated with Workers’ Compensation claims.

However, this benefit needs to be closely monitored to ensure that it continues to benefit the injured employee. If VR is no longer benefiting them, it could be costing your business.

What Is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational rehabilitation as a WC benefit is designed to help injured employees return to work. Vocational rehabilitation services can vary depending on what the injured employee needs.

According to the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC), some of the services a rehabilitating consultant (QRC) may provide include the following:

  • vocational assessment and evaluation
  • training
  • upgrading of general skills
  • refresher courses
  • on-the-job training
  • career counseling
  • employment searches
  • consulting with the employer for job accommodations or modifications.

Who Can Benefit From Vocational Rehabilitation?

Typically, VR is a WC benefit reserved for injured employees who have been out of work for an extended time. The process begins with a consultation with a QRC who can make recommendations regarding whether VR could be a benefit for the injured employee or not.

The QRC considers several factors before making a recommendation, including whether or not the injured employee will be able to return to the job they had before the injury, whether or not the injured employee is expected to be able to find gainful employment with the employer he or she was with when injured, and whether or not the injured employee is able to find gainful employment through VR services based on the treating physician’s opinion.

How Can Vocational Rehabilitation Be Monitored?

If vocational rehabilitation is approved, the claim handler must monitor the regular reports issued by the QRC. Those reports will include what services are being provided and how well the employee is recovering.

When reviewing those reports, the handler should consider several things. Are the employees’ physical limitations (new or ongoing) interfering with the completion of the rehabilitation plan? The employee could have a setback or could incur a new injury or disability that could stop him from completing the VR program.

Is the injured employee fully engaging in the VR? If the employee is not cooperating, such as missing appointments or not keeping in touch with his or her employer and/or QRC, he or she is not fully engaged in the program and probably won’t benefit from it.

Should the goals of the VR be changed? Perhaps the injured employee is not progressing as expected. Perhaps they’ve had a setback. If this occurs, it may be necessary to adjust the VR goals.  

When is it Time to Terminate Vocational Rehabilitation?

If, while reviewing these reports, it appears that the injured employee is no longer benefiting from VR services, termination of those services should be considered. The individual asking for the termination of VR services has to prove that those services are no longer benefiting the injured employee.

Typically, grounds for terminating those services include the following:

  • Death of the injured employee
  • The Workers’ Compensation case is settled
  • The injured employee is no longer participating in the services
  • The injured employee returns to work with a minimal or no wage loss

Vocational Rehabilitation can often help an injured employee return to work more quickly, benefiting both employee and employer. However, Vocation Rehabilitation that is not monitored can end up costing employers big time.

That’s why it’s imperative that someone continues to monitor the injured employee’s status and level of cooperation and take steps to terminate VR services if evidence shows that the injured employee will no longer benefit from those services.

 

Here's How to Save Even More on Workers’ Compensation Insurance!

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. We have the experience and the knowledge to help you lower your WC costs. Our independence allow us to shop and compare insurance providers and policies to get you the right protection at the best price.

Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

We provide worker's compensation insurance solutions in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond. 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Vocational Rehabilitation

How Long Should an Injured Employee be Out of Work?

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 15, 2020

Reduce Workers Compensation Costs with a strong Return to Work program.Return-to-work (RTW) programs help employers by helping retain experienced workers, reduce turnover, and control Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs. RTW programs help injured employees by promoting physical and mental healing, retaining social connections, providing financial security, and helping them retain skills. RTW programs even help improve productivity and morale among co-workers. 

Studies show that injured employees who are out of work for more than six months have less than a 50% chance of returning to work and 80-90% of injured workers would rather get back to work than collect disability.

What is a Return-to-Work Program?

The goal of RTW programs is to get an injured employee working again as quickly as possible while they are still recuperating. That may mean providing the injured employee with temporary, modified, or transitional duties to get them back to work more quickly.

Unless you are a doctor, you probably don’t know how long it typically takes an injured employee to heal from an injury – whether it’s a simple sprain or a more serious injury. To develop an effective RTW, it is important to have some expectations as to recovery times. The good news is that someone has already figured that out for you.

Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) Injury Guideline

An EBM injury guideline tool can help reduce uncertainty by providing recovery timeframe estimates, including the average and median amount of time it takes an injury to heal. It is based on the type of work an employee does – sedentary, light, medium, heavy, or very heavy work.

The two most well-known tools are the ODG guidelines from the Work Loss Data Institute (WLDI) and the MDGuidelines from the Reed Group.

The ODG (official disability guidelines) was released in 1995 as an “evidence-based disability duration (return-to-work) guideline,” by the WLDI. In 2017, WLDI became part of MCG Health.

MDGuidelines are researched and evaluated by an academic-based research team. According to the Reed Group, “MDGuidelines empower employers, insurers and providers to successfully improve health and financial outcomes.” It links several data sources – OSHA, CDC, the National Hospital Discharge Survey, and the worldwide ICD-9 coding system.

An Example

If an employee suffers from a partial rotator cuff tear, and they have a sedentary or light job, it should take a minimum of zero days and a maximum of four days for that person’s body to physically heal enough for them to go back to their full duties at work. However, if that same employee has a heavy or very heavy job, it should take a minimum of 21 days and a maximum of 85 days to recover and be ready to go back to their full work duties.

If you utilize an RTW program, that means that even an employee in a heavy or very heavy job with this type of injury should be back to work within four days – not doing their original work duties but doing sedentary or light duty.

What might surprise you is that more than 50% of people aren’t back to work within the maximum amount of time (85 days) required for physical healing of a partial rotator cuff tear. Understanding recovery time and instituting an RTW program will lead to benefits for your injured employee, his or her coworkers, and your bottom line.

Want to Save Even More on Workers’ Compensation Costs?

Give the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. Our independence means we're free to shop competing providers to get you the best deal. We’ll show you how to save on all of your worker's comp insurance needs in Philadelphia, PA and far beyond.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, WC Insurance