In most states, business owners are legally obligated to provide workers’ compensation insurance to cover medical care and rehabilitation, and wage replacement costs for employees who sustain injury or illness in course and scope of their employment. At EMPLOYERS®, we often hear questions from business owners about how workers’ compensation insurance works. Below are answers to six commonly asked questions.
1. How do I choose the right insurance carrier?
For many small business owners, price will be an important factor when choosing a workers’ compensation insurance carrier. However, it should not be the only factor. Small business owners should look at the whole package of services a carrier offers. This includes a network of care facilities, return to work program guidance, loss control support, anti-fraud programs, claim handling efficiency and flexible payment plans. These integrated services can help you maintain a safe workplace and get more value out of your policy.
2. If an employee is injured in the workplace, can I choose their medical provider?
This varies from state to state. It is important to check with your agent or insurance carrier to determine the specific laws that apply to your business – if possible, before a work-related injury or illness occurs. For example, in some states an injured worker must be seen by a doctor chosen by the employer or the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Other states allow injured employees to select any doctor within a network. Admission to the network could be determined by the state, the employer, or the employer’s insurance company.
3. Can I fire an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
No. An employee cannot be terminated in retaliation for filing a claim.
4. How can I reduce workplace accidents or injuries?
Instilling a safety culture is the most important step a business owner can take to reduce workplace accidents or injuries. Your workers’ compensation insurance agent and your insurance carrier’s loss control department are two important resources that can help you identify and evaluate potential safety risks in your workplace, and then make cost-effective changes to minimize them. For example, they can help you analyze hazards, train your managers to reinforce health and safety best practices, and conduct employee safety training. Your agent or carrier can also help you draft a workplace safety plan that addresses common risks based on your industry.
5. How can I help manage workers’ compensation claims costs?
The health and safety of your employees should be an integral part of your business strategy. While accidents sometimes happen, staying focused on workplace safety is the best way to manage claims. If someone does get hurt at work, reporting the claim quickly – within 24 hours of the incident – is another way to help manage costs. In fact, a 2015 study conducted by the National Council on Compensation Insurance found that delayed reporting can raise claims costs up to 51 percent.
6. How can I protect my business from workers’ compensation insurance fraud?
Workers’ compensation insurance fraud is a serious crime and risk for both policyholders and injured workers. Everyone ends up paying the price for fraud in higher premiums, lost jobs and profits, lower wages and benefits, and higher costs for goods and services. Your insurance carrier or agent can provide important information to help you identify potential fraud indicators and implement a fraud prevention plan. Workers’ compensation insurance is more than just a cost of doing business. When viewed as one element of a comprehensive workplace safety strategy, it becomes an integral part of your company’s success. Your insurance agent can answer your questions and help you select the right insurance carrier to protect your business and your most valuable asset – your employees. For more information, contact us today.