By Bob Reardon, CEO, ISG
The Thanksgiving holiday is just two days away. Like many people, I have a lot to be grateful for in my personal and professional life, including how fortunate I am to work in the workers’ compensation market. As I reflect on my blessings this year, I can’t help but include the industry that I’ve called home for more than 25 years. Here are five things I believe we all have to be thankful for in workers’ compensation this year:
1. The workers’ compensation line is healthy and strong
Despite concerns at the height of the coronavirus pandemic about the impact the virus would have on workers’ compensation claims, most COVID claims have been small, and the volume of COVID-related claims has continued to decline. According to NCCI’s most recent State of the Line report, workers’ compensation had its eighth consecutive year of underwriting profitability with a calendar year combined ratio of 87 and reserves are healthy. Lost time claim frequency continues to decline and there has been no change in medical and indemnity claims severity between 2020 and 2021.
Overall, the workers’ compensation line has remained strong. This has allowed companies to invest in new technology solutions, such as building bridges with industry partners to further improve operating results and provide a better experience for claims professionals and injured employees alike.
2. Despite its challenges, COVID-19 is having a positive long-term impact on the industry
There’s no doubt that COVID brought challenges to our industry, especially for healthcare workers and first responders, and those supporting them remotely. The silver linings of the pandemic include adoption of remote workforce solutions, investments in technology and an increased focus on employee mental health.
Prior to the pandemic, I had not been a proponent of a remote workforce, but the health pandemic changed that perspective for me. After converting to a remote workplace, the feedback received from employees was incredibly positive. Our team learned to work and manage in a remote environment and employees reported being happier and more productive.
Like ISG, many companies across the industry are now embracing work from home opportunities on a permanent basis and have rewritten policies to support employees working wherever they are most productive. As we work to attract a younger generation of workers to our industry, this change will certainly have a positive long-lasting benefit, as will our investment in digitization and automation.
3. Advocacy-based claims models are gaining traction
Approaches to claims management continue to evolve and more claims organizations have adopted customer service models that focus on engaging the injured employee throughout the injury recovery process. Cultivating positive relationships based on trust between the claims professionals and the injured employee is an important factor in successful claims outcomes and is the cornerstone of the advocacy-based employee-centric claims model.
According to the 2021 Workers’ Compensation Benchmarking Study, claims leaders’ understanding of advocacy-based claims models has increased from 50% in 2017 to 80% in 2020. Further, 66 percent of claims leaders are taking actions to engage frontline claims staff in understanding the importance of advocacy. It’s promising to see the number of claims leaders working to better support injured employees in their journey to recovery and I predict this will continue for years to come.
4. The industry is back to in-person meetings and events
While technology has enabled virtual working environments, it’s nice to have the option to meet in person again. Conferences have shifted from online to in-person events, and client visits and team meetings are once again occurring. Corporate travel remains lower than pre-pandemic levels, but is increasing as businesses find value in building relationships through in-person meetings and events. While remote working arrangements are certainly beneficial, so too is the opportunity for authentic human contact and in person collaboration.
5. Recruiting a new generation of workers to the industry is a major focus, as are diversity, equity and inclusion programs
We have been talking for much of the last decade about the aging workforce and the impact that the “silver tsunami” will have as baby boomers retire. The younger generation wants to work for companies making an impact, with strong values, good work-life balance, the ability to acquire skills and expertise within a diverse organization. Our industry is making strides in these areas as we work to provide these benefits to professionals who value these attributes.
Diverse and inclusive teams are proven to have positive outcomes on businesses and can drive economic and social outcomes. Nearly every insurance company has implemented a diversity program and organizations such as the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation are helping to support women in their career path. Risk managers and talent managers are finding creative ways to recruit and retain new staff who will help propel the industry forward. At ISG, we’ve been successful in transitioning military and law enforcement veterans into careers in our industry and these trained professionals are bringing unique skills and leadership qualities that allow them to be successful.
We’re at a pivotal point in our industry’s history with the opportunity for new leaders to emerge as others retire. Yes, we must address the “talent crisis” but we must also embrace the opportunities it presents for those looking to take the reins and are ready to lead!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone working in our great industry. I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with good cheer, great food and lasting memories. As I say every year, if you’re experiencing challenges and the holiday season is hard, know that you are not alone. My sincerest wish is that you will find the support you need, comfort from friends or family (or even people you don’t yet know), and that you are the recipient of good fortune in the days and years ahead. To any of my industry colleagues, if I can help you in any way, please let me know.
About Bob Reardon
As ISG’s Chief Executive Officer, Bob Reardon has significantly expanded ISG’s service offerings, technology innovation and geographic reach through the United States. His primary responsibilities include strategic direction, leadership, service innovation, teamwork and company growth. His vision, dedication, financial expertise and commitment to clients continue to be the driving force behind ISG’s success. Over the past decade, under Bob’s direction, ISG has evolved and grown significantly into a nationally recognized brand and organization providing comprehensive Investigation Management, Medical Management / Clinical Services, Record Management, and Medicare Compliance Solutions for the insurance industry. Today, ISG is comprised of an experienced industry executive team, 1,500 employees, 1,000 field investigators, and a network of over 16,000 medical providers.
Additionally, Bob is involved with and has long-standing participation on numerous non-profit organizations, charities and Boards: Board of Directors for Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart (Development Chair); Saint Sebastian’s School Board; and numerous youth sports, hospital and cancer centers.
About Insight Service Group (ISG)
ISG is a national market leader and technology driven service provider. Our business solutions help organizations reduce claim costs and support successful claim closures for both the insurance and legal communities. The company’s integrated solutions include investigation, medical, clinical, and record management. With over twenty-five years of experience and a comprehensive understanding of the industry challenges, ISG offers targeted, adaptable programs that result in a reduction in unnecessary losses typically from fraudulent claim activity or inflated claim losses. We create impactful solutions and build partnerships based on trust, innovation, experience, and accountability. More information about ISG services is available at isgvalue.com.