The Small-Business Owner's Guide to Workers' Compensation Insurance

Chapter 3: Everything You Need to Know about Workers' Comp Claims
Part 2: How Do I Handle a Workers' Comp Claim?

Workers' Compensation Insurance claims often make a small-business owner's blood run cold because they could mean one of two things:

  • An employee has been made hurt or sick by their job.
  • Someone might be trying to take advantage of the system.

No one wants to see their employees suffer. And no employer wants one questionable claim to open the floodgates for more questionable claims. Earlier this year, The Workers Comp Resource Center discussed New browser window icon. this fear of injury / illness claims and explained why effective communication is the best way to handle any sort of Workers' Compensation issues.

We have to agree. Below, we dispel a few misconceptions about Workers' Comp claims and explain why communication is key.

Why You Should Always Talk to Your Employees about Workman's Comp

According to the Workers Comp Resource Center, "88 percent of employers and others involved in the claim process wrongly thought that communicating with employees caused them to file a Workers' Comp claim."

In fact, the opposite is true. The article explains that injured workers often hire lawyers because they can't get adequate information about their benefits from their employers — not because they wish to swindle their boss. The article suggests that if employers opened a strong line of communication about Workers' Comp, employees might not feel the need to hire lawyers.

88% of employers wrongly think communicating with their employees about Workers' Comp caused them to file a claim.

Below, we offer some tips on how to keep that line of communication open.

Tips for Communicating with Employees about Workman's Comp

So you want to be honest and open with your employees about Workers' Compensation Insurance. This dialogue should start from the moment you decide to hire.

Though most states require you to supply the following information in event of a claim, it's never a bad idea to get a jumpstart:

  • Offer informational brochures. When you hire a new employee, include a brochure in your employment packet that explains the benefits of your Workers' Compensation Insurance. It should detail the types of covered injuries and diseases and a breakdown of how benefits are received. You can also explain the claims process and give a contact number that the employee can call with questions. Do note: in the event of a claim, you may be required to supply your employee with your insurance policy number and your provider's contact information.
  • Conduct regular safety training. Your business should hold regular safety training sessions with employees that answers questions such as, "How can I prevent workplace injuries?" and "What do I do in the event of an accident?" Reinforcing this protocol helps ensure the best possible outcomes after an accident. And remember: it's never a good idea to underestimate the risks of your workplace. Do your accountants know how to recognize the signs of carpal tunnel? Are your copywriters aware of proper posture and the ergonomic devices available to reduce back problems?
  • Foster formal and informal communication. Make sure that your employees have easy access to the Workers' Compensation information they need. For instance, you may appoint a person to handle all claims communication and direct inquiries to the proper source. Also, don't avoid employees after they suffer an occupational injury or illness. A phone call or get-well card from an employer can go a long way toward maintaining a productive working relationship. Experts recommend more formal contact during the recovery process, such as checking in with an injured employee once a week or after medical appointments.

During all of your communication, be sure to emphasize how important it is that your employees notify you of an injury or illness as soon as possible. All states have reporting deadlines, and if they wait too long to report, they may not be able to receive benefits. If you fail to supply the information your employees need to report an injury in a timely fashion, your business could be fined.

Next: Part 3: Do I Need a Workers' Compensation Lawyer?

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