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Gravely injured workers have better chances of survival due to advances in medical technology, but while such developments are welcomed, lifetime medical care and indemnity payments contribute to rising claims severity.
“People are going to survive injuries at a greater rate than before,” said Matt Zender, Las Vegas-based senior vice president of workers compensation strategy for AmTrust Financial Services Inc. “Injuries that occur today have a greater likelihood of success than 25 years ago because medical technology has advanced. We can help injured workers with quality of life that we haven’t seen before.”
“I don’t view my goals as lowering severity as long as severity is helping,” he added.
Virna Rhodes, Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based senior vice president, workers compensation claims, with Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., said claims with lifelong care, such as for workers with paralysis or traumatic brain injuries, are a focal point for insurers.
“I roundtable a lot of our catastrophic cases and the conversation is that people are living with injuries where previously it would have been a fatality,” she said. “These are the ones we talk about in terms of lifelong care (and) we have a pretty decent volume of them.”
Lifetime medical care is “definitely a driver” in the rise in individual comp claim costs, she said.
The workers compensation sector remains a relatively stable and profitable segment of the commercial insurance industry, but some claims are getting pricier and concerns over severity are rising.