Why is timely reporting important for workers’ compensation claims? If you, as the employer, report claims in a timely manner you’ll see faster treatment for the injured employee, the prevention of injury exacerbation, and even future accident prevention. You’ll also likely notice lower costs.
The time an employer has to file the workers’ compensation claim with Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board is 7 days. To see what the time period is in your state, visit www.workerscompensation.com and follow the link for your state.
When you report a claim to your insurer, or for self-insured companies you report to a third party administrator (TPA), they take care of the filing with the Workers’ Compensation Board. Your insurance company or TPA will want you to submit claims within 24 hours of the injury’s occurrence.
Timely reporting ultimately means faster treatment for the injured worker. Remember, in many states, the insurance company has the right to direct treatment to an appropriate provider. This is especially important if the injured employee has to be seen by a specialist. The sooner the insurance company has the claim, the quicker they are able to direct the care to an appropriate provider.
Once an injury is reported, your next step is likely to do an accident investigation. If injuries aren’t reported in a timely manner, then the investigation also isn’t conducted in a timely manner, and the hazard may still be out there – able to harm another employee.
Timely reporting also helps prevent injury exacerbation. I will never forget the words of a track coach I had in high school. If we would complain about sore muscles, his question to us was always “are you hurt, or do you hurt”? The basic premise of his question was - were we truly injured or was something just sore? Applying this to your workforce simply means if your employees are advising you when something hurts, it’s possible something can be done in the work process to prevent that soreness from becoming a true injury.
Using the example from my former coach – if we can change a process before a sore muscle becomes a torn muscle, we can lower the claim costs. It’s much more cost effective to pay for a couple of occupational clinic visits and maybe some physical therapy for strengthening versus waiting until the injury is a torn rotator cuff or other injury that requires surgery to intervene.
Insurance companies have done many studies about timely claim reporting. You may hear this referred to as lag time. Lag time is the period of time between the injury occurring and the insurance company being made aware of it. While the studies vary slightly, you can see an increase in claims costs of 11% starting with claims reported greater than 7 days after occurrence - all the way up to those claims reported greater than one month late seeing an increased claim cost of 45%. It is also important to note that the litigation rate in claims reported 30 days late or more is 47%. This is largely due to the employee thinking no one cares about his or her injury and feeling as if obtaining an attorney is the only way to receive the benefits that are owed to them.
Make a concerted effort to report all workers’ compensation claims in a timely manner – you won’t regret it!