So you always hear insurance companies, particularly workers’ compensation insurers, telling you: “Report any incidents as soon as possible!”
What’s the difference *really* between reporting a claim immediately versus the next day or even the next week (or even the week after that . . .)? You’ve already had enough down time and still have lots to do. Besides, employees and employers often want to take a “wait and see” approach to an injury, because you just might find that no medical attention or time off was needed after all.
For starters, prompt claims reporting is often a requirement. Some states mandate employers report work-related injuries to their insurer within as little as 24 hours.
Beyond the legal aspects, what’s the benefit to you as an employer?
Significantly Reduced Costs.
Both direct expenses (which impact the future cost of your insurance) and indirect expenses (such as overtime to make up the employee’s lost work, hiring and training a replacement, lost productivity, etc.) can dramatically increase the longer the delay in reporting the claim. In fact, the direct costs are estimated to increase by about 10% per one-week delay.*
What’s the advantage for the injured worker?
Timely payment of claim benefits is a huge one.
Injured workers can’t get paid until insurers are able to process the claim. The quicker the incident is reported, the sooner the wheels are set in motion.
Another benefit is the communication that occurs between the injured worker and the claims adjuster. Questions – ones that might otherwise go unanswered for a period of time – are discussed, and some of the claimant’s worries may be alleviated by fully understanding the next steps that will be taken. This communication can minimize the chances of and need for litigation down the road.
Last (but certainly not least), appropriate medical treatment can be sought. Using the “wait and see” approach for certain injuries can have terrible consequences, because the minor medical issue that originally presented can develop into a much more significant problem without proper care.
* Source: Anne Engleman and Patrick Vice, “First Report of Injury: Impact on Claims Cost”, 2001.