When it comes to settling claims, employers have a lot to consider. Should they settle? If so, all or just part? How much is the future medical? Is a Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) needed? Sometimes, employers may decide not to settle because MSAs cost too much. When faced with these considerations, employers need to remember the value their carrier can bring as a resource in dealing with claims settlements.
“Excess carriers routinely deal with unique claim situations,” said Stephen Peacock, Assistant Vice President – Claims at Safety National. “And their extensive knowledge can save costs for organizations without minimizing the medical care injured workers need.”
Here are a few ways that employers can utilize their carrier’s experience and expertise to achieve an optimal outcome for all stakeholders when considering a claims settlement.
Medical costs are increasing at roughly 10% per year. And in catastrophic claims, where injured workers require more advanced treatment, costs can be exponentially higher due to new technology, which is tremendously expensive when introduced. Even the cost of living increases need to be considered. We all understand that medical costs do not decrease with time, but instead of doing nothing, ask your carrier to explore options to reduce the exposures. They could surprise you with alternatives you hadn’t even conceived. When medical costs cannot be reduced any further, it may be time to consider settling. Your carrier can help you exhaust all options through their medical management team, which often has someone that specializes in bill review. Just remember never to let the cost scare you away from settling.
Written Claims Settlements
Injured workers deserve respect and the opportunity to understand the exposure and cost of a claim. However, they often refuse to settle because no one has helped them weigh the potential benefits of settling. Settlement offers should have clear, easy-to-read language that reflects the advantages and disadvantages of settling, and your carrier can help outline both. Most likely, your carrier has more experience handling these situations and can assist in these settlements where sensitivity and compassion are paramount.
Consider scheduling a face-to-face meeting or mediation so the injured worker can talk directly with you, a mediator, structured settlement broker, or expert in Social Security and MSAs. Injured workers often have only their attorneys and other injured workers to rely on for perspective and comparison, so having an independent expert can help settle these cases. Successfully settling these claims is a process and can take several months or years. Your excess carrier can guide you in this and help you navigate the unique territory surrounding these types of claims.
Excess carriers can validate with full authority and knowledge how true the cliché is, “The longer a work comp claim stays open, the more expensive it becomes.” These claims can become lifetime events for the injured workers.