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While claims severity is likely to continue to increase, experts say drops in the frequency of workers compensation-related injuries could help offset the effects of rising costs.
On frequency and severity, “you put the two together and it’s still a positive story,” said Russell Pass, Itasca, Illinois-based chief information officer, executive vice president of product development, at third-party administrator Gallagher Bassett Services Inc.
Some are confident the decline in frequency will help control overall comp spending.
“I would encourage everybody to look at the pieces and the parts” of the industry’s financial picture, said Donna Glenn, Boca Raton, Florida-based chief actuary for the National Council on Compensation Insurance.
Experts note that workplaces are getting safer.
“Improved safety measures have done very well in recent years,” said Jason Beans, CEO of Chicago-based Rising Medical Solutions. “In looking at the data, places are getting safer … and we are less of a manufacturing society. The jobs have gotten safer.”
Virna Rhodes, Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based senior vice president, workers compensation claims, for Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., said risk management has helped.
“I have a very close partnership with my risk control team,” she said. “We talk about ways to prevent the injuries.”
Liberty Mutual, for example, last year introduced its ErgoValuator app, which allows employers to film a worker’s posture while completing tasks, using artificial intelligence to recommend corrections.
“While we don’t have direct control over medical inflation, the workers comp industry can be impactful with implementing safety, employee well-being, and new hire training to help prevent catastrophic, costly injuries from happening,” said Mary Beth Pittinger, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based executive vice president, workers compensation, at Chubb Ltd.
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.