Use the yellow hot spots and explore how workers’ compensation insurance can help protect against common risks.
Are you about to hire your next workers' compensation claim? In an effort to get a position filled quickly, you may take shortcuts that could cost you thousands of dollars.
Prospective employees should be required to complete a pre-hire physical. A copy of the intended job description can then be given to the medical provider with the physical requirements of the position. This helps to ensure only those capable of doing the job are hired and keeps other employees safe.
Oftentimes employees don’t understand the workers' compensation process and may be afraid to report a claim for fear of losing their job or impacting a daily count of injury-free days that are tied to an incentive program.
Educate employees on the workers' compensation system. During the hiring process, consider explaining how workers' compensation coverage protects your employee when an injury occurs. Your employees should understand that it is their responsibility to report an injury immediately and follow the company’s guidelines for seeking medical attention. Explain your return to work policy and have your employees sign an agreement stating they understand the process.
Your employee may become injured and you might be tempted to rely on someone else to communicate with them. As a result, your employee may be confused by the workers' compensation process and unsure where to turn.
You and your supervisors need to stay in constant communication with your employees. Your insurance broker can provide some coaching and guidance throughout the process. Above all, your employees should feel that you care about their injuries and that you will be involved in helping them recover. Your direct supervisors play a key role in this process and should be trained to effectively communicate with your employees throughout the injury.
When your employees become injured, they may need time to recover. As an employer, you may be tempted to rely solely on the workers' compensation insurance company and/or your employee’s medical provider to communicate throughout the process. If you do, the process can become unnecessarily prolonged.
As the employer, let your insurance company and your employee’s medical provider know that you have a return to work program in place. Ask the medical provider to refer to the job description that has been provided for the injured employee. As soon as the employee is medically cleared, offer a light duty position and ask them to report to work. If needed, your employee can continue to receive treatment while they continue to recover.
Statistically, your company’s Experience Modification Rate (EMR) has more than a 70% chance of being incorrect. Your EMR is a number used by insurance companies to gauge any past cost of injuries and future chances of risk. In addition, over 80% of payroll audits are done incorrectly. Both factors impact your workers' compensation coverage.
Trust your insurance advisor and have them assist and advocate during the annual payroll audit conducted by the insurance company. Your agent should also monitor all claims, but especially claims reserved over a $10,000 threshold. Larger claims should have a quarterly report prepared by your insurance agent to let you know the status of the claim. Your agent should work with your insurance company’s claims adjustor to close any claims as quickly as possible.
Claims can remain open longer than needed due to poor communication between you and your employee’s medical provider. As a result, you may be unaware that your employee is well enough to return to work on a modified basis.
Get to know the doctors that are helping your employee heal. Your insurance broker should foster this relationship by assisting you in the selection of the medical provider prior to a claim. Meet with the medical provider, interview them, tour their facilities, ask them to tour your location, and explain your return to work program. Job descriptions can be provided to the medical provider and an agreement of services can be achieved. Once a claim takes place, a clear line of communication should be established so you are kept aware of your employee’s status.
Sometimes employees are trained to do a job well, but are not trained to do their job safely. Many work-related injuries can be avoided by effective training.
Your insurance broker should be able to organize monthly training classes. Many insurance carriers offer training tools at no charge and your broker can help you utilize these tools to your advantage. For example, topics such as proper lifting techniques can be critical for many job functions. Also, using tools like payroll stuffers can be very effective.
Many employers are concerned about their next OSHA visit. Worried about citations and fines, employers see OSHA as the enemy. Sound familiar?
OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential safety and occupational health advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.
What is Workers’ Comp?
Workers’ compensation provides medical and wage benefits to those who become ill or are injured while at work. Both the coverage and medical benefits vary from state to state. Each state can set its premiums and benefits based on the current state of its economy and the risks its businesses face. Individual states also decide who sells and handles workers’ comp policies.
Duties can vary between:
- State-run agencies
- Private insurance companies
- The state itself
Workers’ comp can help protect both your employees and your business by covering:
- Missed wages
- Medical expenses
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Death benefits
- Other benefits
Workers’ compensation relies on a social contract between management and labor. In exchange for purchasing workers’ compensation insurance, owners become protected from civil suits from workers injured on the job. Still, each party benefits from these limitations.
How Does Workers’ Comp Work?
Workers’ compensation insurance policies pay out benefits to your employees and can limit your liabilities if a lawsuit is filed after a workplace injury. Workers’ compensation is governed by state laws, which dictate the amount of benefits that can be received, the types of injuries eligible for coverage, and how benefits and care are provided. Below are some examples of how workers’ comp might vary in different states.
North Carolina: Workers’ comp laws provide injured workers with medical treatment for their injuries and wage replacement if they become disabled due to those injuries. North Carolina does not follow the tort/negligence system, which allows recovery from pain and suffering. Rather, North Carolina workers’ compensation laws cover economic losses.
South Carolina: Under current South Carolina workers’ compensation law, if an employee suffers injury by accident arising out of and during employment, that worker is entitled to recover medical expenses, temporary total compensation for lost time, and permanent disability benefits if the worker suffered permanent injuries due to a work-related accident.
Virginia: As a general rule in Virginia, a business that regularly employs three or more employees must carry workers’ compensation coverage. In addition to shielding an employer from a civil suit, Virginia workers’ compensation insurance helps to cover disability payments if an illness or work-related injury leaves an employee temporarily or permanently unable to work. Workers’ comp is also meant to pay for medical expenses for the injured employee.
Do I Need Workers’ Compensation Insurance If I’m Self-Employed?
If you’re self-employed or a sole proprietor, you may immediately assume workers’ compensation isn’t relevant to your business. However, if you work in a high-risk industry like construction, you’ll often need coverage to obtain certain licenses, permits, or certifications. For example, if you’re an HVAC contractor and occasionally enlist the help of subcontractors or part-time workers for bigger jobs, the state may require you to have workers’ compensation coverage to pay for a subcontractor’s medical bills if they become injured at the worksite or while driving a company vehicle. You may also benefit from business auto insurance if an employee is in an accident that causes damage to a work van, company tow truck, or other vehicle used for business purposes.
How Much Does Workers’ Comp Pay?
Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state, as does the pay. Below are a few state-by-state examples.
North Carolina: Workers’ compensation laws state that injured workers are paid two-thirds of their average weekly wage.
South Carolina: Similar to its neighbor up north, South Carolina offers a rate of two-thirds of the injured employees’ average weekly wage based on their pay in the four quarters prior to their injury. The payment can be no more than the maximum average weekly wage determined each year by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.
Virginia: In Virginia, injured workers are paid for reasonable and necessary treatment from work-related injuries and partial wage loss replacement if the injury or illness leaves them unable to work during their time of recovery. Like other states, Virginia workers’ comp laws state that workers receive two-thirds of their weekly pay if they have been with a company for one year.
When Will Workers’ Comp Offer a Settlement?
The amount of time it takes to receive workers’ compensation varies from state to state. Read on for examples of how long the process takes in some states.
North Carolina: On average, the entire settlement process takes around 12-18 months, depending on whether or not you have legal representation and the details of your case.
South Carolina: Upon negation of the settlement, you should receive a check within one to two months. The time it takes for you to settle your case in court can vary.
Virginia: In Virginia, after the Deputy Commissioner approves the settlement, which typically takes two weeks post-delivery of the settlement documents to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, the insurance provider has 44 days to put the injured employee’s settlement check in the mail.
How Long Can a Workers’ Comp Claim Stay Open?
Each state has specific laws on how long a workers’ compensation claim can stay open. See examples of some states’ timelines below.
North Carolina: An accident claim must be filed within two years of the injury unless the employer pays wage replacement. If the employer paid for medical treatment, then the claim must be filed within two years from the last payment given by the employer for treatment.
South Carolina: Even though you have to report your injury within 90 days of it occurring, you have up to two years to file a claim. Additionally, if the employee dies due to a work-related injury, the employees’ dependant, or parents, must file a claim within two years as well to claim benefits.
Virginia: Similar to many other states, an injured employee has up to two years after their accident to file a claim in Virginia.
How Much Does Workers’ Comp Cost?
While it mostly depends on who you or your employer is insured through, there can still be some variation between states due to different labor laws. Additionally, laborers that work a physically demanding job usually have higher premium rates. Workers’ comp is also unique because it tends to decrease over time as overall safety trends upwards.
North Carolina: The estimated employer rates for workers’ compensation are $0.90 per $100 in covered payroll.
South Carolina: Workers’ comp in South Carolina can be a little bit more expensive. The estimated employer rate for workers’ compensation in South Carolina is $1.66 per $100 in covered payroll.
Virginia: In Virginia, the workers’ comp rates are $0.74 per $100 in covered payroll. Your cost is based on a number of factors that include:
- Claims history
- Industry and risk factors
- Coverage limits
- Number of employees
Request a Quote for Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Need workers’ comp insurance? Get a free online quote for coverage today, as well as a no-obligation preview of your recommended policy. All Insurance Services offer policies from many top-rated carriers and have knowledgeable agents who can help you get the best policy available at a fair price.