Understanding the Agent’s Role in Claims
Does an agent have a role in the workers’ compensation claim process? Can agents bring value to the table in resolving a benefit dispute? This session at WCI’s 2017 Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference illustrated how important it is for agents to be engaged before and after a compensable accident.
The panel included:
- Steve Coonrod, Attorney, McConnaughhay, Coonrod, Pope, Weaver & Stern, PA (moderator)
- Bob O’Halloran, Senior Vice President of Claims, Summit Consulting, Inc.
- Liz Alipio, Assistant Vice President, Zenith Insurance Company
- Randall T. Porcher, Attorney, Morgan & Morgan
The agent has an important role before and after workers’ compensation claims. This includes:
1. Fostering a collaborative relationship.
The agent is a vital cog in creating this relationship. Employers often need help understanding the process and the agent offer can bring many resources to the table. Establishing this at the start and maintaining this ongoing relationship is important. Employer and agent share the same goals, they just do not always understand that.
2. Helping to prevent claims through safety programs and the hiring process.
The agent is pivotal in helping employers create a culture of safety and health. You want individuals that will take ownership of that. Front-line supervisors must have understanding of how safety practices are going to affect the premium in the long run. Incentive programs can help.
3. Assisting when a claim does occur.
Often employers are unaware of reporting requirements and deadlines. The carrier wants to know about an injury as soon as possible so that they can get involved. Many employers want to keep the injury quiet, thinking of premium increase. It is the agent’s job to instruct the employer that open communication with the carrier is in their best interest. Ignoring the problem does not make it go away.
4. Communicating on how to help to prevent litigation.
Early communication with the injured employee can make a real difference in how a claim proceeds. Most employers are unaware of this. The agent can encourage this type of communication and provide resources on how to best do that. If the employer can provide security around emotional and financial fears, the injured employee is less likely to hire a lawyer. It is important to keep the employee from feeling abandoned in the process.