Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Essential coverage for a safe, productive workplace.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance Companies provided by Cowell James Forge Insurance Group.

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Workers’ compensation insurance, otherwise known as workers’ comp or workers’ comp insurance, is there to help cover medical expenses and any lost wages that occur if an employee becomes sick or is injured carrying out their jobs and cannot work.

Keep Your Business Safe

In some states, you’ll find that workers’ comp insurance is a legal requirement. That’s why you’ll need to search out workers’ compensation insurance in Kansas if you own a business in this particular state; it’s the law. However, even if you didn’t have to legally buy workers’ compensation insurance, it would still be extremely wise to do it, and something that we would highly recommend.

When you buy workers’ compensation insurance, you are investing in your business, and you are taking care of your employees. A business that doesn’t have the health and safety of its staff at its heart will have difficulties keeping them. Since hiring new staff is much more expensive than retaining your current employees, anything you can do to ensure they know you’re looking out for their best interests is crucial; having workers’ comp insurance in place is a perfect example of something you can do that will benefit all parties.

Plus, without workers’ compensation insurance, your business might be the subject of crippling lawsuits, which not only decimate your business financially, but would quickly destroy your reputation too.

Searching out the best workers’ compensation insurance companies is something that will safeguard your business against many different potential threats and keep your employees loyal and content in their work. There really are no reasons not to buy workers’ compensation insurance when you’re a business owner.

The Legalities Of Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Although, as with many things, the exact rules regarding workers’ comp do vary between each state, and going into detail about all of these differences would be a challenging task, the fact remains that in general, the majority of states require business owners to take out workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance must payout if the employee is injured at work or becomes sick through work.

This means that, should an injury occur while the worker is doing their job, they will be covered (this includes driving for their job, although it doesn’t include commuting to and from a place of work). It is not a general liability insurance that will cover them should they be injured elsewhere, and there are always caveats to consider when you look into workers’ compensation insurance companies; some will be stricter than others, and this may have a bearing on which one you choose.

It is vital to remember that, although the insurance itself is a legal requirement, it is the duty of the business owner or their representative to actually purchase it. This will not be done automatically.

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Work Safety

Pre-Hire Physical

Risk Factor

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.

Solution

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.

Education and Injury Reporting

Risk Factor

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.

Solution

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.

Communication

Risk Factor

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.

Solution

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.

Return to Work Program

Risk Factor

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.

Solution

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.

Payroll Audits and EMR

Risk Factor

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.

Solution

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.

Medical Provider Communication

Risk Factor

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.

Solution

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.

Safety Training

Risk Factor

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.

Solution

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.

OSHA Inspections

Risk Factor

Many employers are concerned about their next OSHA visit. Worried about citations and fines, employers see OSHA as the enemy. Sound familiar?

Solution

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.

Is It Worth The Risk Of Not Buying Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

The short answer to this question is no. The legal ramifications include expensive fines and even imprisonment. However, it’s not just the legal penalties that you need to be aware of, and that makes having workers’ comp insurance in place a necessity. There are also other business costs to consider; if an employee is injured, then it makes sense to help them return to work as quickly as possible so that you don’t lose out on productivity and skills. Having your workers’ compensation insurance in place to assist with medical bills and rehabilitation means the employee will be working again much sooner.

Plus, of course, there are more humanistic ways to look at it. Of course, your business is essential, and you need to ensure you’re doing all you can to take care of it, but your workers are human beings, just like you. If they are hurt, they need help, and as a careful and conscientious employer, it’s down to you to provide that help.

Contact us today to find out more about the kind of coverage you need and what to look for in a workers’ compensation insurance policy.

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