Best's Review



A Global Conversation
Workers’ Treatment

Experts discuss the latest trends and challenges in the workers’ compensation insurance market with AMBestTV.
  • November 2019
  • print this page

David Blades

David Blades
Associate Director
AM Best

“Definitely the decline in lost-time claims has largely been due to improvements in workplace safety. The improvements that companies have made and the investments that they've made have been considerable and been part of overall strategic planning. It's manifested itself in enhanced automation, robotics, and general overall improvements in risk management, so that's what we've seen.

There's also been effective reform aimed at addressing increasing workers' comp costs and abuses in the system that have resulted in insurers paying lost-time claims, for example, to workers who could have and probably should have been back to work. The effective reforms and also overall workplace safety has had the positive impact on loss frequency.

Now again, while loss frequency has been trending positively, loss severity has definitely been declining or going in an adverse manner. That covers both medical cost severity and also indemnity severity. Although medical cost severity has really been the key driver of severity going in the wrong direction.

What we've seen, for example, one factor in that is motor vehicle accidents. We've seen more motor vehicle accidents that have involved workers and these increasing number of claims have included fatalities. That's occurred despite the fact that we know newer vehicle are definitely being made with more safe and stronger materials.

Also, there have been all kinds of safety improvements with those vehicles, but still we've seen a greater number of motor vehicle accidents impacting workers and having an impact of workers comp severity from that standpoint.

In particular, the classes of business that have been impacted by motor vehicle accidents have included long- and short-haul trucking, taxi drivers, and also sales and service vehicles. We've seen that over time again having an impact on the motor vehicle accidents and an impact on severity.

In addition—and this has been impactful in both personal lines and commercial lines in terms of auto—increased smartphone usage has also had an impact on the losses that have affected workers' compensation, or workers in terms of severe accidents. We'll see how those trends continue on a going-forward basis.”

Jan Klodowski

Jan Klodowski
Vice President of Alternative Risk
Agri-Services Agency

“Sometimes our farmers are out on their tractors, and they don't have the shield for the power take off. That's important because you can lose an arm or a leg in a fraction of a second.

What we will do is we'll communicate with the farm, their employees, their foreman, as well as the migrant workers, to help them understand how severe a loss can be if you don't have that covered.

We do training on tractors. We do training on the rollover protective structures, which is the protection over the tractor, to make sure that if they flip over, you want that on your tractor so you're not injured. We do a lot of training with machinery.

We also do a lot of training with chemicals and hazard communication. That helps the farmers out tremendously, too.”

Jacqalene Lentz

Jacqalene Lentz
AM Best

“There are a host of issues that we're going to continue to monitor in workers' compensation and talk with companies about—innovation first and foremost. Innovation in terms of underwriting risk and claims management, claims handling.

Also, innovation in data management, predictive analytics, and whether this is driving some of the favorable improvement we continue to see in the combined ratio for workers' comp.

I think we're also going to monitor innovation in terms of the internet of things, and for workers' comp, specifically, we're talking about wearables. Is this driving some measurable safety improvement in the loss ratio for workers' comp?

We're going to continue to monitor severity. We're also going to monitor rate actions. Up to this point, there's been significant rate decreases, so we'll continue to watch that.

We will also look at economic conditions and the potential for increases in minimum wage.

Lastly, I think we're going to continue to talk to companies about medical and recreational cannabis. It's impact on the workers' comp line from a safety perspective, as well as from a claims treatment perspective, and whether it is something that can be used as an alternative to opioids.”

Tracy Ryan

Tracy Ryan
Executive Vice President
Liberty Mutual

“We're seeing a big shift in the focus on the injured worker and what we're calling injured worker advocacy.

We know that it's really important that the injured worker truly understands the process and what's going to be happening to them once they've been injured on the job.

This shift started probably about four or five years ago when we changed our language from calling them claimant to an injured worker.

We're continuing to see that evolve. Imagine that you're injured on the job, you're going through the claims process, and all of a sudden you realize you can't go to your doctor. You need to go to a doctor in our network. Then we say we're going to do an investigation and we need to do an independent medical exam.

It's a lot of language that really isn't comforting to the person who's just been injured.

We're going through a transformation to change the language we use, start with empathy, and focus on that injured worker experience.”

Josie Novak

Josie Novak
Associate Analyst
AM Best

“Relating to workers' compensation, if someone causes an accident in the workplace, are they under the influence of marijuana at that point in time or were they under the influence a few days ago and it's still in their system?

The last thing with workers' compensation is there's a big debate on if a doctor or physician prescribes this marijuana coverage, or marijuana treatment, is it going to be excluded or included under your workers' compensation coverage?

Those are definitely where we're going to keep our eye on in the future.”

Visit to watch the video interviews with these executives.

Back to Home