Top trends in workers' compensation

How labor, comorbidities, mega claims, telemedicine and other trends are impacting this important market

May 2021 | General Industries




For every year a person ages, the medical cost of an injury increases by 1.1%, and the indemnity cost increases by 3.5%


In recent years, there has been an uptick in mega claims workers’ compensation claims in excess of $3 million


Telemedicine is becoming increasingly popular, and recent estimates indicate the market could reach nearly $7 billion in value by the end of 2020

Workers’ compensation is a critical form of insurance coverage that can benefit both employees and businesses alike. Should an employee get injured or become ill as a result of a work-related incident, workers’ compensation insurance reimburses that employee for lost wages and medical expenses related to treatment and rehabilitation. Not only is workers’ compensation insurance required in most states, but it also plays a critical role in connecting injured employees to the care they need to return to work as quickly and safely as possible.

Given its importance, businesses need to be aware of sweeping workers’ compensation trends — including trends related to an aging and inexperienced workforce, comorbidity, telemedicine and mega claims — that have the potential to impact their operations now and into the future. This article will examine some of these trends in detail, arming businesses and the agents who represent them with the information they need to respond effectively to an evolving workers’ compensation market.

Workers’ compensation trends

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Workers’ compensation insurance is critical for any organization and can benefit employees and businesses alike when it is managed effectively

Not only is workers’ compensation required in most states, but it also plays a critical role in connecting injured employees to the care they need to return to work as quickly and safely as possible

Given the importance, businesses need to be aware of sweeping workers’ compensation trends that have the potential to impact their operations now and into the future

about the experts

Molly Flanagan, Associate Vice President of Workers’ Compensation Claims

Molly Flanagan headshot

Molly Flanagan has nearly two decades of experience in workers’ compensation claims, holding various leadership roles throughout her career. Her experience spans across the workers’ compensation industry, working with ... both monoline and P&C carriers, managing large loss claims, driving cross-functional strategy and participating in public policy WC research. Molly completed her undergraduate studies at Saint Mary’s College and received her law degree from the Michigan State University College of Law. She is an active member of the bar association workers’ compensation practice group, a member of the NCCI Medical Data Call Research Committee and a member of the Rising Medical Workers Compensation Benchmarking Study Committee. Read more

Jim Lindsey, Sr. Workers’ Compensation Consultant, Commercial Lines Middle Market

James Lindsey

Jim is the Senior Workers’ Compensation Consultant in Commercial Lines middle-market operations. He has 30 years’ experience in commercial loss control services blended among field consulting, field underwriting and department... management, emphasizing workers' compensation coverage.

Jim has earned a B.S. in Occupational Safety & Health, an M.S. in Human Resource Training and Development, and his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with a specialty in business. He is a Certified Safety Professional® (CSP®) and an Associate in Risk ManagementTM (ARMTM).
Read more

Aaron Symonds, Vice President of Commercial Lines at Collins & Associates Corporation

Aaron Seymonds

At Collins & Associates Corporation, Aaron is an executive working on commercial business in coordination with the risk control and account management teams dedicated to managing the total cost of risk. Serving as a risk manager for large commercial businesses,... Aaron routinely evaluates and presents both traditional and nontraditional insurance alternatives to his clients. His primary goal is to make sure that his clients understand their risks and the options they have available to them to become less reliant on insurance and drive the cost of risk down over time. Over the past 15 years, he built a multimillion-dollar book of business in both the guaranteed cost and alternative risk financing areas of the insurance business. Read more

Kate Harris, Loss Control Consultant and Risk Control Department Leader at Collins & Associates

Kate Harris

As leader of the risk control department at Collins & Associates Corporation, Kate oversees loss control and claims services for large commercial businesses in traditional and nontraditional markets. Kate’s primary function is to assist clients with making informed risk-control and risk-reduction decisions. Kate is responsible for client and... department success. Her efforts in providing client-first practices has led to significant growth for proactive risk control and claims services. She is dedicated to staying in touch with relevant, timely and predictive content to ensure that her clients are well educated in emerging risks. Kate’s formal education is in Occupational Safety and Health Management. Her years of experience in fast-paced environments are the foundation for her practical solutions guidance for large businesses seeking to reduce insurance costs over time. Read more

1 "Ten Critical Challenges Facing the Workers’ Compensation Industry," amtrustfinancial.com/blog/critical-issues-facing-workers-comp-industry-2020 (accessed Jan. 14, 2021).

2 "Age in relation to worker compensation costs in the construction industry," Natalie Schwatka, Lesley Butler and John Rosecrance, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 56, No. 3 (2013), pages 256-266.

3 "3 Ways Employee Age Affects Workers Compensation Utilization," amtrustfinancial.com/blog/insurance-products/3-ways-employee-age-affects-workers-compensation (accessed Jan. 14, 2021).

4 "Inexperienced Workers More Apt to Sustain Workplace Injuries," coremarkins.com/inexperienced-workers-more-apt-to-sustain-workplace-injuries (Sept. 9, 2016).

5 "Comorbidity in Workers’ Compensation: Preventing and Identifying Comorbidity to Reduce the Impact on Workers’ Compensation Claims," riskandinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/HCS_COMORBIDITY-IN-WORKERS%E2%80%99-COMP.pdf (accessed Jan. 13, 2021).

6 "Managing the Pandora’s Box of Comorbid Conditions," Eric F. Patten, ic.nc.gov/patten.pdf (accessed Jan. 13, 2021).

7 "Comorbidity Risk Is a Cost Amplifier; Your Silos Are Making It Worse," Susannah Levine, riskandinsurance.com/time-to-take-aim-at-comorbidity-risk-but-first-bust-your-siloes/ (June 14, 2019).

8 "Countrywide Mega Claims," ncci.com/Articles/Pages/II_Country-wide-Mega-Claims-Report-2020-BureauReady.pdf (August 2020).

9 "Mega Claims in Workers’ Compensation: The NCCI Weighs In," Nina Luckman, riskandinsurance.com/mega-claims-in-workers-compensation-the-ncci-weighs-in (Sept. 17, 2020).

10 "Report: Workers’ comp ‘mega claims’ of $3M or more on the rise," Merriell Moyer, safetynewsalert.com/articles/mega-workers-comp-claims-rise (Sept. 3, 2020).

11 "In 2020, Employer Health Costs to Double Inflation Yet Again," Bruce Japsen, forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2019/09/12/in-2020-employer-health-costs-to-double-inflation-rate-yet-again/#1f6093872754 (Sept. 12, 2019).

12 "Workers Compensation Mega Claims," Tony DiDonato, ncci.com/Articles/Documents/II_Insights_Mega_Claims_ResearchBrief.pdf (August 2018).

13 "Is Telemedicine Actually Impacting Your Workers’ Comp Claims?" Autumn Heisler, riskandinsurance.com/telemedicine-impacting-workers-comp (July 18, 2018).

14 "COVID-19 and Injured Workers: Telehealth Provides Digital Access to Recovery," Courtney DuChene, riskandinsurance.com/covid-19-no-match-for-injured-workers-telehealth-provides-digital-access-to-recovery (March 30, 2020).

15 "11 Crucial Trends That Are Impacting the Construction Industry Today," riskandinsurance.com/11-crucial-trends-that-are-impacting-the-construction-industry-today (Nov. 1, 2019).

16 "Construction Safety: Drone Use Can Save Lives and Money," John Macahan, columbiasouthern.edu/blog/may-2020/drones-and-construction-safety (May 29, 2020).

17 "Return To Work Statistics," catalystrtw.com/return-to-work-statistics (April 13, 2017).