We caught up with the vice president of communications and strategic analysis at Safety National, Mark Walls, to get his take on three of the hottest topics in workers’ compensation right now.
Election year impacts every economic and societal structure in the country including insurance. Insurance commissioners are elected in 11 states and appointed in the other 39, and in the 2016 election, five insurance commissioner positions and 12 gubernatorial seats will be decided.
“The workers’ compensation industry needs to be paying attention to these elections because the insurance commissioners can have significant influence over procedures, policies and enforcement in their states,” Walls explains.
Regarding the overall election result, Walls believes the biggest impact with regards workers’ compensation will be “the direction given to OSHA and the Department of Labor and how those departments interact with employers. With one candidate we can probably expect policies similar to the current administration. It is unclear how the other candidate views such issues.”
At the beginning of the year, Walls highlighted four states that had the potential to implement regulatory reform in the workers’ compensation space. The states he mentioned were New York, Florida, Illinois and California.
“New York and Illinois tried to advance workers’ compensation reforms but these efforts failed,” says Walls. “There are numerous bills in California on workers’ comp issues. In addition, there is a lawsuit in California alleging their workers’ compensation statutes are gender biased. There was legislation on that issue last year but this was vetoed by Governor Brown.”
Walls describes the workers’ compensation situation in Florida as a “mess”. “Several elements of their workers' compensation statutes have been found unconstitutional and NCCI has recommended rate hikes over 20% because of this,” he says. “The Florida legislature will need to address this next year.”
With 25% of the workforce expected to leave the insurance industry by 2018, attracting the next generation of talent is of paramount importance. In excess of 1 million workers will retire in the next 10 years and 400,000 positions will be left open by 2020 (Deloitte and Jackson Group).
Walls believes that organizations in the workers’ compensation space need to give some thought to the role of the examiner, because millennials demand variety, flexibility and the ability to do meaningful work. Leaders in workers’ comp should be making a real effort to highlight the positive aspects of the jobs available in the segment, including that of claims adjuster. The workforce is changing and those firms who don’t adjust will find themselves in trouble. Walls says: “This will be an ongoing effort and the insurance industry is very focused on finding ways to attract new talent.”