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Reduce WC Costs with Designated Health Care Providers

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Oct 09, 2021

Reduce Workers Comp Costs with Designated Health Care ProvidersOne way to reduce the cost of Workers’ Compensation Insurance is by managing medical expenses. One way Pennsylvania employers can manage medical costs is by providing a list of designated health care providers.

The PA Workers’ Compensation Act allows employers to establish a list of designated health care providers and states that injured employees “must seek treatment for the work injury or illness with one of the designated providers for 90 days from the date of the first visit.” Without this list, injured employees can seek medical treatment from any provider.

Creating a list of good health care providers for your injured employees not only helps you manage health care costs and lower WC insurance; it also helps ensure that your injured employees receive the best care possible. First, however, there are guidelines providers must follow.


      • The list must be posted in an area where employees will see it.
      • There must be at least six providers on the list.
      • Three of the providers must be physicians.
      • A maximum of four providers can be coordinated care organizations.
      • The list must include the providers’ name, address, telephone number, and area of medical specialty.
      • Providers must be geographically accessible.
      • Providers’ specialties must be appropriate for anticipated work-related injuries and illness of employees.
      • If a particular specialty is not on the list and the specialty care is reasonable and necessary for treatment of the work injury, injured employees are permitted to choose their own health care provider.
      • Employers must state if any of the providers are employed, owned, or controlled by the employer or its WC insurance provider.
      • Employers must provide a clearly written notice to all newly hired employees regarding their rights and responsibilities, which every employee reads, signs, and returns to the employer.
      • When an injury occurs, the injured employee should read and sign another acknowledgment of their rights and responsibilities.
      • Employers can’t direct injured employees to any specific provider on the list and must allow employees to switch from one provider to another provider on the list.
      • In an emergency situation, the injured employee is not required to seek medical treatment from a provider on the list. But once the emergency is over, they must use a provider on the list.
      • Injured employees are permitted to change physicians after 90 days, but they must give notice of the change to the employer and the insurance carrier within five days of the first treatment.

Additional Tips to Save on Workers’ Compensation Costs

WC Insurance covers the cost of medical treatment and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job and helps protect businesses against lawsuits filed by injured workers. In Pennsylvania, Workers’ Compensation Insurance is mandatory for almost every employer, whether an employee is full-time or part-time or even family.

However, there are steps - besides creating a designated health care provider list – businesses can take to lower their WC costs. Here are just a few.

    1. Institute a Documented Safety Program – Several studies have found that every dollar invested in preventing workplace injuries can yield a $2 to $6 return on investment.

    2. Have a Return-to-Work (RTW) Program – Not only can RTW Programs lower costs related to employee injuries, but they can also help keep injured employees engaged, lower the risk of litigation claims, reduce employee turnover, and increase productivity.

    3. Work with an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Insurance AgentThe agents at American Insuring Group have many years of experience in Workers Comp Insurance and can help guide you through the process. Plus, as independent agents, we check with several insurance companies to make sure you pay the lowest rate for all of your insurance needs.

→ Start saving on WC and other insurance costs by giving American Insuring Group 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, Return-To-Work Programs

4 Tips to Lower the Risk of Workers' Comp Litigation

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 25, 2021

4 Tips to Lower the Risk of Workers Comp LitigationIn Pennsylvania, almost all employers are required to carry Workers' Compensation Insurance (WC) for their employees. WC covers medical costs and lost wages for an employee that is injured on the job. WC also protects employers from negligence lawsuits. 

However, that doesn't make employers impervious to WC litigation. Under Pennsylvania law, if a workers' comp claim is denied, the injured employee has up to three years to file an appeal. And statistics show that litigated workers' compensation claims cost businesses more money, making minimizing the risk of litigation a smart move. 

Here are four tips to Lower the Risk of Workers' Compensation Litigation. 

Minimize the Risk of Injury

The best way to minimize the risk of WC litigation is to reduce the risk of injury with a workplace safety program.

 According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), every workplace safety program should include the following elements:

  • Commitment from management
  • Employee Involvement
  • A workplace analysis
  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Employee training
  • Communication

Creating a safer work environment does more than lower the risk of litigation. It also helps improve your bottom line. Discover the impact of workplace injuries on your profitability with OSHA's "$afety Pays" program. 

Understand Why Injured Employees Seek Litigation

A Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) study in 2014 took a look at why employees will hire an attorney. Here are the three primary reasons:

  • Fear of getting fired just because they were injured on the job
  • A belief that their supervisors don't believe it's a legitimate injury
  • Concerns that the claim will be denied 

Once you know what can trigger an injured employee to seek litigation, you can take steps to prevent those triggers from happening. 

Communicate With Injured Employees

One of those steps is to communicate with injured employees. In that study, WCRI found that 33% of all the injured workers they surveyed were afraid that they were going to be fired. Regular communication with an injured employee can help eliminate that and many other uncertainties (which is often why people seek litigation). 

As soon as possible, someone from your company should reach out to the injured employee to ask how they're doing. But, first, you need to determine the best person to keep in touch with the injured employee. That person could be the employee's immediate supervisor, someone from human resources, etc. 

Then, you should have weekly face-to-face meetings with injured employees to show them that you value them, get updates on their medical condition, and discuss a potential transitional duty job. During these regular meetings, you can also gauge the attitude of the injured employee more quickly. 

During these conversations, you should listen to and address their concerns, assure them that their job is safe, and encourage them to focus on recovery. 

Have a Return to Work program

A return to work (RTW) program helps bring injured employees back to work more quickly. That could mean modified duties for the employee until they can medically return to their original job. In addition, an RTW helps an employee feel more productive and more connected to their workplace, which means they will be less likely to seek litigation.

The PA Department of Labor & Industry states, "Return-to-Work programs benefit all partners in the compensation system."

  • Injured workers maintain employment security, seniority, and benefits and receive personalized and effective treatment;
  • Employers retain experienced employees while reducing accident and workplace costs;
  • Health care providers are supported in their decisions and treatment strategies;
  • Unions maintain the employment rights of their members; and
  • The workers' compensation system can manage rising health care costs and provide high levels of benefits to injured workers and their dependents. 

And, of course, RTW programs help minimize the potential for an injured employee to seek litigation.

Save on Workers' Compensation Insurance

The experienced agents at American Insuring Group specialize in WC insurance and ensure you have the right coverage at the best price. 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

4 Heat-Related Illnesses Construction Workers Should Watch For

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Aug 28, 2021

4 Heat-Related Illnesses Construction Workers Should Watch ForAs the temperature continues to rise, so do heat-related illnesses among construction workers. The first step to minimizing your risk of these illnesses (and lowering your Contractor Insurance costs) is to understand potential illnesses, how to avoid them, and how to treat them.

According to WebMD, "Heat exhaustion is strongly related to the heat index, which is a measurement of how hot you feel when the effects of relative humidity and air temperature are combined. A relative humidity of 60% or more hampers sweat evaporation, which hinders your body's ability to cool itself." A heat index of 90 degrees or more significantly increases the chance of a heat-related illness.

Certain factors can increase your risks of a heat-related illness, such as obesity, certain prescription medications, the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, and certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney, and heart problems. Also, adults over 65 can be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

Here are four heat-related illnesses to look out for when you're working in hot and humid conditions – inside or out.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the most common heat-related illness and can occur when a person is exposed to high temperatures for several days without adequate fluids.

There are two types of heat exhaustion – water depletion and salt depletion. Water depletion can cause excessive thirst, headache, weakness, and even a loss of consciousness. Salt depletion causes nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and muscle cramps. Additional symptoms can include confusion, dark urine, pale skin, rapid heartbeat, and profuse sweating.

If you or someone you're working with in hot and/or humid conditions experience these symptoms, the first step is to cool them down.

  • Get them out of the heat – preferably into an air-conditioned room
  • Remove tight or unnecessary clothing,
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
  • Drink plenty of fluids (including sports drinks, which replace salt)
  • Remove tight or unnecessary clothing,

If these measures don't make you feel better within fifteen minutes, seek medical help. Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke – a more serious heat-related illness that can cause damage to vital organs or even death.

Heat Stroke

Heatstroke is the most severe heat-related illness and, unlike heat exhaustion, requires immediate medical attention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "[Heat stroke] occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes."

A person suffering from heatstroke will experience many of the same symptoms as heat exhaustion – headache, dizziness, nausea, etc. But a person with a heat stroke will stop sweating and have a high body temperature. As a result, their skin will be red, hot, and DRY rather than cold, pale, and clammy skin like someone with heat exhaustion.

If you see or feel any of these symptoms, immediately call for medical assistance, get out of the heat, and use any methods to cool down quickly (i.e., spray with cool water or immerse in a tub of cool water). Monitor the body temperature until it is below 103°F. Do not give fluids to someone with heatstroke.

Heat Cramps

When your body lacks both water and salt, your muscles can spasm and cause cramps, typically in the arms, legs, and abdomen. If you experience heat cramps, get out of the heat, drink cool water or electrolyte-replenishing drink, and apply a cool, wet compress to cramping areas. Seek medical assistance if the cramps don't go away within an hour of treatment.

Heat Rash

Heat Rash is the least serious heat-related illness, but it can be uncomfortable. It happens when sweat can't evaporate from the surface of your skin, which can happen to construction workers working long hours in hot conditions. With a heat rash, you'll see small itchy red bumps or blisters – typically on your chest, neck, groin area, and inside your elbow. You can help alleviate the symptoms by getting out of the heat and hydrating. A cool shower and the application of talcum powder can help eliminate the rash.

Here's How to Lower Your Contractor Insurance Costs

American Insuring Group wants to help lower your Contractor Insurance costs by helping you keep you and your employees safe. AND, as independent agents, we compare multiple competing insurance companies to ensure that you pay the lowest insurance premiums while providing you with great coverage.

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

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

8 Tips to Lower Your Commercial Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Aug 14, 2021

Save on Commercial Insurance in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Reading, Lancaster and elsewhere.Commercial Insurance is an excellent investment for any small to medium-sized business. Liability insurance, workers' compensation, or any other type of commercial insurance is designed to help protect your business. But that doesn't mean you should pay more than you have to for that coverage.

Here are some tips to help you lower your Commercial Insurance costs:

Create a Safer Work Environment

Whether you run your business out of an office or a Jobsite, creating a safe work environment is your responsibility. And it's in your best interest as fewer workplace injuries mean lower expenses, including lower Workers' Compensation and Commercial Liability premiums.

There are several measures every business can take to create a safer work environment:

  • Create a culture of safety
  • Use signs to alert employees about potential hazards
  • Provide PPE when appropriate
  • Keep things clean
  • Maintain equipment
  • Implement safety protocols, etc.

Develop Safer Employees

Safety training should be a part of any employee training – especially in higher-risk occupations, such as restaurant, trucking, and construction. But even an office presents certain hazards, such as ergonomic injuries, eye strain, and fires.

The Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) offers various safety and health training and articles based on hazards, industries, etc.

Minimize the Risk of Theft or Damage

Prevent employee theft by doing background checks on potential employees and hiring employees who don't have a criminal background. Have a written policy on employee theft and make sure all employees understand those policies. Divide payroll and billing responsibilities, restrict access, keep track of inventory, etc.

Protect your business assets from theft and vandalism by installing solid doors and good locks and ensure that your exterior building entrances are well lit. In addition, consider installing security systems – cameras and alarms.

Protect your information from being stolen through cyber-attacks by training employees on security principles, providing firewall security for your internet connection, ensuring proper passwords and authentication is used, etc.

Combine Your Insurance

Many insurance companies offer a discount when you combine or "bundle" different types of insurance – such as commercial auto and commercial property insurance. And did you know that depending on your business structure, you may even be able to bundle business and personal policies to save even more on insurance premiums?

Maintain Good Credit

Often, insurance companies will look at a new business owner's personal credit history before providing an insurance quote, and typically the better your credit history, the lower your premiums. Establishing good credit under your business name – especially if your personal credit is less than stellar – could also help lower your insurance premiums.

Increase Deductibles

The deductible is the amount that you pay out of pocket when you make a claim. The higher you set your deductible, the lower your insurance premiums should be. However, before selecting a high deductible to lower your insurance premiums, make sure you will be able to cover that deductible if you have to make a claim.

Review Your Insurance Policies Annually

In business, as in life, things change. For example, this past year, you may have purchased or sold a company vehicle, made improvements on your property, added or eliminated an employee. Any of these changes can affect your insurance premiums and the amount of coverage you need, so it's essential that you review your policy each year.

Work with an Independent Insurance Agent

The agents at American Insuring are independent agents, which means we aren't restricted to working with one insurance company, unlike most of our competitors. Instead, our agents will check with multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the lowest rate possible on your insurance needs.

For a free quote, give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Reviewing Your Loss Run Report Can Lower WC Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jul 17, 2021

Reviewing Your Loss Run Report Can Lower WC Insurance Costs in the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, Erie, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Reading and throughout Pennsylvania.In Pennsylvania, almost every employer is required to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance for their employees; however, they are not required to pay more than they have to.

There are many ways employers can lower WC costs - creating a safer workplace, working with an insurance agent – like those at American Insuring Group - who specializes in Workers’ Comp, and reviewing your company’s WC Loss Run Report at least once a year.

What is a Loss Run Report?

A Loss Run Report – issued by your current insurance provider - shows your company’s claim activity for the policy period. You can request this report for most types of business insurance – including Workers’ Comp, and most states require the company to provide the report within a certain amount of time.

Loss Run Reports list the date of each loss and claim, a brief description of each claim, the amount paid to the insured, and whether or not the claim is closed. You can think of it like a credit report or report card for insurance companies. They use the information in the report to determine how risky a business is to insure, which can affect the premium you pay for insurance or even if an insurance company will issue a policy or renew a policy for your business.

You can use the information to lower your insurance costs and even improve other areas of your business.

What Should You Review on a Loss Run Report?

Accuracy

At the very minimum, you should check the Loss Run Report for accuracy. Ensure that you recognize every claim listed on the report and that the information listed is correct. Invalid claims or incorrect information could impact how much you pay for insurance.

Common Injuries

The report also lists the most common and frequent injuries and where they occurred. You can use this information to improve safety and lower the number of injuries within your company, reducing your insurance (and other) costs.

Claimants

Suppose you notice a high number of claims from one individual or specifically from new hires. In that case, you can talk to them about safety or adjust your safety training to help reduce the likelihood of additional claims.

Lost Time

Lost-Time claims indicate that compensation was paid to an injured worker who cannot perform their job due to the injury. The national average for lost-time claims is between 20 and 25 percent. If you notice a high percentage of lost-time claims, you may want to take a look at your Return-to-Work program. There are many benefits for both employee and employer to get injured employees back to work as soon as possible – even if it’s in a modified capacity. 

Reporting Time

Injuries should be reported within 24 hours whenever possible so the injured employee can receive quick and proper treatment. If you notice a pattern of a long time between when an injury occurs and when it is reported, you may need to look at additional safety training for management.

Open Claims

The longer a claim is open, the more it costs you, so your goal should be to close claims as quickly as possible. Any open claims should be monitored closely.

Litigation

A large percentage of litigated claims could be a red flag. It could be an indication that employees are dissatisfied with their employer or their job. If you see a large percentage of litigated claims on your loss run report, you may want to consider how well management communicates with employees, your business culture, or other areas that can cause discontent among employees.

How to Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs

They say “knowledge is power,” which is certainly true when it comes to lowering your Workers’ Compensation costs. If you don’t know there’s a problem, you can’t fix it. A Loss Run Report can help identify potential issues that you can address to improve your company’s bottom line.

Working with an independent agent with experience in WC insurance – as the agents at American Insuring Group do – is another way to lower your WC costs. We will compare costs and options among competing worker's compensation insurance carriers to be sure you get the right insurance at the best price. Call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

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

Lower Workers Compensation Costs With Proper PPE

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jun 12, 2021

Lower Workers Compensation Insurance Costs With Proper PPE in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Allentown, Lancaster, York and throughout PennsylvaniaMinimizing injuries in the workplace benefits everyone – from a better quality of life for employees to higher productivity and lower Workers Compensation Insurance costs for employers. Therefore, keeping employees safe should be a top priority for any employer. One way to keep employees safe is with proper personal protective equipment (PPE). 

What is Personal Protective Equipment?

PPE is equipment employees wear to minimize exposure to hazards that can cause injuries and illnesses in the workplace. PPE is designed to protect employees from chemical, electrical, physical, and other workplace hazards. Examples of PPE include gloves, hard hats, safety glasses, earplugs, facemasks, etc. 

To be effective, PPE must be safely designed and constructed, and properly maintained. PPE must fit workers properly, or it can create a hazard. And employees must be trained on how to use PPE correctly, including the following:

  • When PPE is necessary
  • What type of PPE is needed
  • How to wear PPE correctly
  • How to properly maintain PPE
  • The limitations of PPE 

OSHA Employer Obligations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states, “…when engineering, work practice, and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to you and ensure its use.” 

Employers cannot require employees to provide their own PPE, and – with very few exceptions - employers must pay for PPE that is needed to comply with OSHA standards. 

Types of PPE Protection

Determining the type of hazard is the first step in choosing what types of PPE are required to keep employees safe. OSHA recognizes six types of hazards that may require PPE: 

Eye and Face

OSHA requires eye and face protection when employees are exposed to hazards such as flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, potentially infected material, or potentially harmful light radiation. The following are common types of eye and face protection:

  • Protective eyeglasses
  • Goggles
  • Welding Shields
  • Laser Safety Goggles
  • Face Shields

Head

A head injury can be fatal or affect an employee for life. Employees must wear head protection – such as hard hats or helmets - if any of the following apply:

  • Objects could fall from above and strike an employee on the head
  • An employee could bump their head on fixed objects, such as exposed beams or pipes
  • There is any chance the employee could accidentally have head contact with any electrical hazards. 

OSHA identifies three industrial classes of hard hats:

  • Class A hard hats provide impact and penetration resistance along with limited voltage protection (up to 2,200 volts).
  • Class B hard hats provide the highest level of protection against electrical hazards, with high-voltage shock and burn protection (up to 20,000 volts). They also offer protection from impact and penetration hazards by flying/falling objects.
  • Class C hard hats provide lightweight comfort and impact protection but offer no protection from electrical hazards. 

Foot and Leg

Employees may require foot and leg protection if a hazard assessment reveals possible exposure to the following:

  • hot, corrosive, or poisonous materials
  • Falling or rolling objects
  • Electrical hazards 

Examples of foot and leg PPE include the following:

  • Leggings
  • Metatarsal Guards
  • Toe Guards
  • Combination Foot and Shin Guards
  • Safety Shoes can include electrically conductive shoes, safety-toe shoes, non-slip shoes, etc. 

Hand and Arm

If there is any possibility that an employee could experience injury to their hands and arms that cannot be eliminated through engineering and work practice controls, PPE – in the form of the correct type of gloves – should be worn. 

To be effective, suitable gloves must be used based on the hazard. Types of gloves may include the following:

  • Leather
  • Aluminized
  • Aramid Fiber
  • Synthetic
  • Fabric
  • Coated Fabric
  • Butyl
  • Natural Rubber
  • Neoprene
  • Nitrile 

Body

Hazards that can cause bodily injury should first be eliminated by engineering and work practice whenever possible. When those hazards - such as extreme temperatures, impact from tools, machinery, and materials, hazardous chemicals, or hot splashes from molten metals and other hot liquids – are present, appropriate protective clothing must be worn. Depending on the hazard, body protection may include lab coats, vests, aprons, coveralls, vests, full body suits, etc. 

Hearing

Employees exposed to excessive noise that can affect their hearing should be issued hearing protection, such as single-use earplugs, pre-formed or molded earplugs, or earmuffs. When assessing hearing hazards, OSHA recommends considering the following factors:

  • The loudness of the noise as measured in decibels (dB).
  • The duration of each employee’s exposure to the noise.
  • Whether employees move between work areas with different noise levels.
  • Whether noise is generated from one or multiple sources. 

How to Save More on Workers Compensation Insurance

Creating a safe work environment is your first line of defense against high WC costs. Working with an experienced agent who understands the complexities of WC insurance – such as the independent agents at American Insuring Group - should be your second line of defense. Give us a call today 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, Safety Programs

Transitional Duty Helps Businesses Save on Workers' Compensation Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, May 15, 2021

Lower Your Workers Comp Insurance Costs with a Transitional Program in Philadelphia or elsewhere in PAA Return-to-Work (RTW) Program can help lower Workers' Compensation costs. Injured employees who can return to work – even if they're on modified or transitional duty – recover more quickly and feel more productive and connected with their workplace. Employers benefit by reducing the likelihood of litigation and – of course – controlling Workers' Compensation claim costs. 

What are Modified and Transitional Duty?

Sometimes injured employees can come back to work for what is called modified duty. Modified duty allows injured employees to perform their original duties with some modifications. With modified duty, the PA Department of Labor & Industry states, "Every effort will be made to place the employee in the most productive assignment available." Modified duty may include a shorter workday or providing a chair for the injured employee, so they can sit while working. 

However, sometimes restrictions imposed by the treating physician are too much to allow an injured employee to return to their regular duties, which is where transitional duty comes into play. With transitional duty, an employer is looking for something within the company that the injured employee can perform and still meet the physician's restrictions. 

For example, you may move a factory worker into the office to help – maybe scanning documents or answering phones. The idea is that the injured employee is gradually transitioned back to their original duties. 

The Key to Successful Transitional Duty

The key to successfully transitioning an injured employee back to their regular job is communication, so weekly meetings are essential. Those meetings should be held by a transitional duty coordinator or the supervisor handling the injured worker's RTW. Here are the benefits of weekly meetings. 

  1. Weekly Meetings Keep Injured Employees Connected

Humans are a social species, so it's essential that employees performing transitional duties feel connected to their supervisors and co-workers. Weekly meetings boost morale, enhance self-worth, and make injured employees feel like valued members of the team. 

  1. Weekly Meetings Help Transition Injured Employees More Quickly

Weekly meetings allow the employer and injured employee to work together so the employee can transition into other duties and move closer to their regular responsibilities more quickly. 

Injured employees should bring any changes in their medical condition, such as medications, work restrictions, and physician's recommendations to the weekly meetings. This allows the employer to determine if an injured employee is building strength or capabilities. 

The employee can discuss concerns they have or any obstacles they foresee in transitioning into new duties. Together, the employee and employer can address those needs and discuss options. Sometimes a simple change – such as an ergonomic chair – can allow an injured employee to transition into a duty closer to their regular work. 

The Weekly Meetings

During the weekly meetings, make sure that the injured employee feels like a valuable part of the team. Allow them to be a part of the conversation that will allow them to return to their regular duties. 

Here are a few tips:

  • Send a letter to the injured employee's home address informing them of the meeting's time and date. If possible, send an email reminder of the meeting.
  • If the injured employee is unable to drive due to the injury, provide transportation to the meetings.
  • Make sure you follow all state and federal regulations, such as ADA, FMLA, and COBRA.
  • Allow for an open dialogue so the employee feels comfortable expressing his or her concerns.
  • Ensure that the employee is fit to perform new transitional duties safely. 

Save on Workers' Compensation Insurance

Another way to save on Workers' Compensation Insurance costs is to work with an agent who has experience with WC. American Insuring Group has specialized in WC for many years and can help your company save on Workers' Compensation costs. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

5 Tips to Improve Your Workers' Compensation Plan

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 11, 2021

Workers Compensation Insurance protection in Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown, Lancaster, York, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and everywhere in PA.No Workers' Compensation Insurance program is perfect; however, if you want to improve your company's bottom line, it's imperative that you continually look for ways to improve your WC program.

Here are five tips to help any business improve its Workers' Compensation Plan. 

 

1. Get Started

This may sound like common sense, but sometimes the most challenging thing with any project is just getting started. Here are five areas that you should focus on to see the most significant impact. Pick one and get started!

  1. Improve safety
  2. Reduce costs
  3. Reduce litigation
  4. Build relationships with medical providers
  5. Get injured employees back to work 

2. Create a Culture of Safety

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2019 there were 5,333 fatal work injuries recorded and 2,814,000 non-fatal work injuries that resulted in 888,200 cases with days away from work. The median number of days away from work was eight. These work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses are costing U.S. businesses billions of dollars every year, which is why workplace safety should be a top priority at any company. 

Creating a business culture that focuses on safety will have one of the most significant impacts on reducing your organization's number of injuries. That culture must be embraced by all employees at every level of the organizational chart. 

Here are three tips to help create a culture of safety:

  1. Create a safety program with a set of controls designed to help protect employees from potential harm within the workplace.
  2. Ongoing training should be a big part of any safety program. According to the National Safety Council, "Investing in workplace training is money well spent. Employers with effective safety and health training programs benefit from fewer workplace injuries and claims, better employee morale, and lower insurance premiums."
  3. Employees should be recognized and/or rewarded for committing to workplace safety practices. 

3. Set Program Goals

Bill Copeland said, "The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score." Research shows that setting measurable and attainable goals boosts performance because it motivates and challenges employees to increase their effort, allows them to focus better, and helps them prioritize. 

Goals you may want to consider are reducing the number of injuries, reducing the time it takes to get an injured employee back to work or reducing the number of litigation claims. 

Once you have specific goals in place, create a plan of action and consider recognizing or rewarding employees for helping accomplish those goals. 

4. Avoid Common Mistakes

There are certain mistakes that many employers make. Knowing those mistakes is the first step to correcting them. Here are seven common Workers' Compensation mistakes to watch for:

  1. Not having a safety plan in place or not enforcing it
  2. Not having a return-to-work program
  3. Underestimating the projected annual payroll
  4. Not assigning the correct classification codes or not changing those classifications when business operations change
  5. Listing an employee as a subcontractor – on purpose or by mistake.
  6. Poor claims management
  7. Working with inexperienced insurance agents 

5. Work With an Experienced Independent Workers' Compensation Insurance Agent

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Workers' Compensation Insurance. We have a clear understanding of the WC process and a proven track record of providing exceptional service to businesses – both big and small. 

The American Insuring Group's independent agents can help ensure that you get the best coverage at the lowest cost on all of your business insurance needs because, as independent agents, they are free to shop and compare among competing insurance carriers. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online today!

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

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

The Cost of Failing to Provide Adequate Workers’ Comp

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jan 30, 2021

Avoid the cost of failing to provide Adequate WC Insurance. Get the right workers comp insurance from American Insuring Group. Serving Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Allentown, and all of Pennsylvania.Most employers in Pennsylvania are required to have Workers’ Compensation (WC) Insurance. Failure to carry adequate WC can result in civil and criminal penalties. Therefore, employers must understand their WC obligations. Here's what you need to know... 

What is Workers’ Compensation?

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry defines Workers’ Compensation as “mandatory, employer-financed, no-fault insurance which ensures that employees disabled due to a work-related injury or disease will be compensated for lost wages and provides necessary medical treatment to return them to the workforce.”

The goals of WC are simple:

  • safer workplaces
  • prompt treatment and compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses
  • reduced litigation costs

With only a few exceptions, Worker’s Compensation insurance is mandatory for any employer in Pennsylvania who employs at least one employee. If ALL workers employed by that employer fall into one or more of the following categories, they may be excluded from mandatory WC. This is a general list, minus the fine print.

  • Federal workers
  • Longshoremen
  • Railroad workers
  • Casual workers
  • Persons who work out of their own homes or other premises not under the control or management of the enterprise AND make up, clean, wash, alter, ornament, finish, repair, or adapt articles or materials for sale that are given to them.
  • Agricultural laborers making less than $1200 per year
  • Domestic workers who have not elected to come under the provisions of the WC Act (they must notify the Department of Labor & Industry)
  • Sole proprietor or general partners with no other employees
  • People granted exceptions due to religious beliefs
  • LLC’s in which only the employees are members of the LLC
  • Executive officers who have been given an exclusion
  • Licensed real estate salespersons or associate real estate brokers

Workmen’s Compensation rules for independent contractors can be complicated. Merely referring to someone as an independent contractor doesn’t mean the Department of Labor & Industry will agree. Here are a few factors that may indicate an individual is not an independent contractor but an employee.

The individual…

  • Performs duties assigned by the employer
  • Works hours set by the employer
  • Uses tools, equipment, or materials that the employer provides

The bottom-line is… before you assume your employees are exempt from Workers’ Compensation Insurance, check with your insurance agent or the Department of Labor & Industry or risk facing civil or criminal penalties.

According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, the estimated cost of WC Insurance in Pennsylvania is $1.34 per $100 covered in payroll.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Employers are required to report all injuries to their insurer or program - in the case of a self-insured employer - the person responsible for managing their WC. 

Employers are also required to submit a First Report of Injury to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within seven days if the injury results in the loss of one or more day, shift, or turn of work. If the injury results in death, the employer must file a First Report with the Bureau within 48 hours. The injured workers and the employer’s insurer should also receive copies of the First Report. 

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Refusing to file a Workers’ Compensation claim on behalf of an employee is against the law.

 If an employee is injured, and the employer does not have WC insurance, the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund will pay the employee’s benefits. The employer will be required to reimburse the fund, including costs, interest, penalties, and other fees. 

Injured employees covered under WC insurance have very limited ability to sue their employers. However, that is not the case when the employer fails to carry WC insurance. Employers without WC are open to litigation for workplace injuries and illnesses. And often, the damages awarded are higher than what the employer would have paid for WC insurance. 

Employers who fail to maintain WC coverage could be found guilty of a misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. If the courts decide the failure to comply was intentional, the employer could be facing a felony charge that carries a fine of up to $15,000 and up to seven years in jail. 

Getting the Right Workers’ Compensation Insurance

American Insuring Group specializes in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. We can help you determine 1) whether or not your business is required to carry WC and 2) how you can get the best price on quality insurance protection if it is needed. Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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