With workers compensation rates on the rise in several parts of the country, commercial clients are feeling the strain. Producers have the ability to compare carrier rates, but they can offer the most financial support through one important value-added service: educating business owners on the importance of communication.
According to workers’ comp attorney J. Bradley Young, communication with injured workers is the number one way employers can reduce claim costs, and producers have an important role to play in that process. By facilitating frank discussions on employer-employee communication, producers can change the company dynamic to one of honesty and trust.
That’s something severely lacking in today’s workplace environment, says Young, who works as a partner with Harris, Dowell, Fisher & Harris in St. Louis.
“I still deal with employers every day that feel that if they educate their workforce about comp laws, they’re simply telling their employees how to get more money out of comp claims,” Young told Insurance Business
. “I don’t think that’s the case.”
Instead, Young believes many comp claims—particularly ones that involve attorneys—are a product of uncertainty rather than a desire to bleed the employer dry. Often, claimants say they would not have hired an attorney had the employer simply kept them in the loop regarding their rights.
All that secrecy breeds a distrust towards the employer, which can result in lawsuits and heightened comp claims. Interested employees eventually discover their workers’ comp rights anyway, often through tools like Google, “so why not tell them first and foster that relationship of trust?” Young said.
That’s where a producer can help. Educating insureds on how to speak with their employees regarding their workers’ comp rights is vital, as it can potentially save business owners on their insurance bill down the road.
That education can take place in a number of different ways.
“Whether it’s lunch meetings, breakfast meetings, or in-house seminars, these scenarios can be facilitated by brokers,” Young said. “They just have to have the will and the access to someone who can do the speaking—they can even do it themselves.”
As a workers’ comp attorney, Young speaks himself at these producer-facilitated events roughly once every two or three months. He has seen the value such seminars have both for the employer and their agent.
“The insured knows that brokers aren’t being paid for making that investment in the company,” he said. “It’s a value-added services, and insureds get that and appreciate it. Operations run more smoothly, and it gets reciprocated with loyalty to the broker.”
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