NCCI President and CEO Bill Donnell kicked off the 2016 NCCI Annual Issues symposium with his observations of the workers compensation industry. The theme for NCCI AIS this year is Channeling Change: Meeting the Challenges of an Evolving Market.
Bill is the new CEO of NCCI this year so he started with some observations from his first year on the job. He feels the mandate for NCCI today is essentially unchanged for the last 100 years. NCCI provides independent, objective analysis that assists workers’ compensation industry stakeholders. He emphasized the critical role they play including providing analysis for over 100 pieces of workers’ compensation legislation in the last year.
Right now, the industry is on solid ground financially. The industry is profitable and claim frequency continues to decline. He discussed two examples of employers (Iron Mountain and Harley Davidson) who have had significant improvement in their workers’ compensation results by increasing their focus on ergonomics and loss prevention.
Bill also discussed some of the positive stories our industry has with injured workers achieving remarkable recoveries from life-changing injuries. We don’t do enough to talk about these positive stories and the traditional media tends to focus on negative stories.
In a collaborative way, we need to address the challenges workers’ compensation faces including erosion of exclusive remedy and ensuring injured workers receive appropriate and timely treatment for their injuries. He also discussed the important role of regulators and state legislatures play in protecting the balance of the grand bargain which can be undermined by court decisions. Finally, he said we must adapt to how the evolving economy works to ensure that workers’ compensation continues to meet the needs of the workforce.
Finally, Bill provided one word to describe the current state of the workers’ compensation industry:
The workforce, risks and markets are transforming and the industry needs to respond to this.