Workers compensation insurance is required for most employers, so choosing a workers compensation company may seem like an easy task. However, the decision is not as straightforward as it seems, and it can impact your company’s future.
The purpose of work comp is simple: to protect employees and employers. This “no fault” coverage protects both parties when an employee is injured on the job. It covers medical treatment for the injured worker and reimbursement for lost wages if they’re unable to return to work during recovery. In turn, the employer is protected against lawsuits due to injuries.
Every workers compensation company must conform to state statutes on coverage terms, limits of liability and benefits. To this extent, you’ll get the same insurance policy from any company you choose. Beyond that, however, there are many variables that determine the value you get for the premium you pay.
As a policyholder, you benefit the most when you select a carrier that acts as a partner, invested in the success of your business. Work comp is required, but it can be an advantage that protects your people and your bottom line.
Trust your agent
Most business owners work with an agent to choose the right workers compensation provider. Your agent is a wealth of knowledge and a huge asset, especially for small businesses without a dedicated risk manager. But you should also do your own research on insurance providers, and go into the discussion with an idea of what you’re looking for in a work comp partner.
The best way to reduce your work comp premium is to improve your experience modification factor by preventing injuries and effectively managing claims. A workers compensation company that genuinely seeks to partner with you will have lots of resources to help you do both.
To make the best educated decision, look for a workers compensation company with these qualities.
1. Customer service
Your provider should be easy to access when you have questions or concerns about claims, premium payments, workplace safety or anything else.
As a business owner or manager, you have a lot on your plate. You don’t have hours to spend managing your work comp policy every day. Look for a provider with a solid customer portal, and online tools that let you:
- Pay your bill
- Report injuries
- Manage claims
- View reports like loss runs and audit statements
You should have the option of online self-service, but you should also be able to easily reach a real person to help you when you need it. Your carrier should have a customer service line that you can call any time with questions. The customer service representative may connect you with another internal expert who can help.
As you consider carriers, ask about the different teams you’ll work with. While customer service is typically your first point of contact, you might also work with representatives from claims, underwriting, premium consultation, and the safety and risk department – if your provider has one (it should).
Many large insurance companies that provide work comp also provide other types of insurance. Your agent’s first suggestion might be to package your business insurance policies together with one carrier. For some businesses, this approach will streamline your choice and policy administration. But to get the most value for your premium, choose a company that specializes in workers compensation insurance.
A specialized insurance provider can save you money in the long run. Its experts deeply understand the region’s work comp laws and can better equip you to avoid lawsuits and other potential costs associated with workplace incidents. Specialized carriers also often have value-add programs that reward you for proactive risk mitigation, offsetting your premium costs.
An insurance provider that only offers work comp is also more likely to have a robust fraud prevention program. Fraud impacts everyone and can push premiums up across the board. Find out if your carrier has an investigative unit that actively pursues reports of suspected fraud.
3. Safety resources and support
Your work comp carrier should share your goal of keeping your employees safe at work. After all, it’s in everyone’s interest – yours, your employees’, and the carrier’s – to prevent injuries in the first place rather than deal with the consequences of unsafe working conditions and practices.
Missouri Employers Mutual has an extensive library of up-to-date safety resources that are free for all policyholders (and non-policyholders). With hundreds of tools at your fingertips, you don’t have to worry about developing a safety program from scratch or researching the latest best practices for your industry. Look for detailed materials like Tool Box Talks, sample safety policies, posters to display in your workplace, and multimedia like videos and podcasts.
A valuable carrier will provide access to a specialized safety and risk management team. Like customer service, this team should be easy to reach if you have questions about safety at your company. Ask about an insurance provider’s safety support services. This might include a support center phone line, opportunities to speak with safety consultants or even in-field safety professionals who visit your workplace and provide personalized insight. If you don’t have a detailed safety program at your business, your workers compensation company should be equipped and willing to help you develop one.
4. Safety reward programs
Your premium is based on your payroll, class codes and e-mod. However, some carriers reward policyholders with money back when they show that safety is their top priority. For example, Missouri Employers Mutual pays annual safety dividends. Policyholders can earn higher dividends by having safety programs with elements like documented safety policies, regular safety training and a return to work program.
MEM also has a safety grant program. Any policyholder can apply, and those selected receive matching funds up to $10,000 to purchase eligible safety equipment. If your company puts safety first – and you should – you stand to earn a significant amount of your premium back from the right carrier.
5. Claims management support
If an injury does occur, successfully managing the claim will result in the best outcome for your employee and your business. Managing claim costs can positively impact your e-mod and reduce your premium.
Workers compensation companies are not out to avoid paying claim costs – they want successful outcomes, just like you and your employees. Ask what your carrier has in place to ensure an injured employee will get the best possible care as quickly as possible. A valuable carrier should also have resources to help you plan for an injured employee’s return to work.
Telehealth: If an employee is injured, the first step you take to get them medical care is an important one. An unwarranted emergency room trip can make claim costs skyrocket, impacting your e-mod. But you’re probably not a medical expert. Choose a work comp provider with services to help you make those decisions and ensure any injured worker gets quick and quality care. This could be a nurse triage line, telemedicine services or a comprehensive telehealth program.
Return to work: Look for a provider with a dedicated return to work coordinator. If an injury takes your employee out of commission, your provider can help you plan for their return to work. This might include transitional, or “light duty,” work. An earlier return to work is associated with better outcomes for the employee and your business.
6. Money-saving endorsements
In addition to in-house programs, your carrier might offer endorsements through third parties that can help you improve safety and save additional money. Some examples:
Post offer employment testing (POET): Determine if a prospective employee is physically capable of performing a specific job. On average, about 10% of those tested are not hired because they can’t safely do the job.
Drug and alcohol testing: Perform post-incident testing on site, which is faster and more convenient than traditional methods.
Telematics: Businesses with vehicle fleets or lots of drivers can improve safety by tracking employees’ driving behaviors.
Choose a workers compensation company wisely
The coverage details of your policy will be the same from carrier to carrier. That’s why it’s crucial to find a work comp provider that offers more than a policy. When discussing your decision with your agent, ask about potential carriers’ customer service, expertise, safety resources and value-add programs. The provider that will deliver the most value for your premium might not have the lowest price tag at face value. Equipped with the right questions, you can find a carrier that will truly help you protect your business and your employees.