Four Benefits of Quickly Reporting Workers’ Comp Claims
By Dimitrius King
Workplace injuries are a reality that many small businesses face — especially landscape businesses. Given the high risk of equipment accidents, chemical and pesticide exposures, and environmental and property risks, among others, it’s important to understand the benefits of efficient reporting of workers’ comp claims as a landscape business owner. The amount of time it takes to report claims can have a real impact on employees and a landscape business’s bottom line.
With a timely injury-reporting process, landscape business owners and their workers can benefit in several ways:
1. Maintaining employee trust and morale.
Fewer than one in four U.S. employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their wellbeing — the lowest percentage in nearly a decade, asreported by Gallup in 2022. In an industry with as many hazards as landscaping, due to the use of specialized equipment and power tools, accidents must be taken seriously. Business owners can build trust and work to prevent accidents by sharing resources on preventing workplace hazards. While risk management and prevention is an important first step, given the risks associated with equipment and chemicals, accidents are sometimes inevitable. In cases where accidents do occur, companies that don’t take workers’ comp claims seriously or are late to file claims may notice employee morale start to sink as delayed reporting can send a message to workers that there’s little concern for their safety and wellbeing. Especially in today’s turbulent job market, prioritizing employee health and care through efficient reporting of workers’ comp claims can help contribute to an environment where workers feel protected and valued.
2. Allowing for an in-depth accident investigation.
To preserve key pieces of evidence and mitigate fraud, it’s imperative that an insurance carrier starts an investigation as soon as possible after an accident occurs. Unfortunately, fraud does happen. Given that landscape workers are often on different properties daily, landscape business owners must have proper and organized reporting procedures in place. Workers’ comp contributes to the estimated $30 billion in fraudulent insurance claims that are filed every single year in the United States. With early claims reporting, landscape business owners can ensure accidents are thoroughly investigated, and employees who truly need workers’ compensation benefits receive them.
3. Reducing workers’ comp claim costs.
Early reporting can also reduce the overall workers’ comp claim cost. If an employee is genuinely injured, allowing them to continue to work without the proper medical treatment can result in the injury getting worse or another injury occurring because of the first one. Injuries can create additional expenses and staffing challenges. By reporting claims in a timely manner, injured employees can get the care and benefits they need and get back to work as quickly as possible.
4. Avoiding penalties and fees for late filing.
Every small business across industries is required to report injuries, illnesses and deaths that happen in the workplace to OSHA and their respective state’s workers’ comp division. Failing to do so within its state’s allotted timeline can result in significant penalties and, in some cases, thousands of dollars in fees. Under reporting and improper reporting of workers’ comp claims is also a significant problem. In 2015, OSHA estimated that approximately half of serious work-related injuries and fatalities were not reported, and also estimated that many of those responsible for under-reporting were small and mid-sized businesses that likely didn’t understand their reporting requirements. Business owners need to understand the laws and put an injury-reporting process in place, especially given their various job site locations. This will not only help keep the company within the claims reporting window and avoid fines but will also help reduce the under-reporting gap.
Whether it’s the benefit of employee retention and boosted morale, or reducing costs, promptly reporting workers’ comp claims is imperative to the long-term success of a business. Landscape business owners should take note of the processes required by their insurance carrier before injuries occur, so they’re educated on how to quickly proceed in the case of an accident. Every situation is different and state workers’ comp laws are subject to change, so please refer to your state’s specific legislation programs.
Dimitrius King is chief claims officer at Pie Insurance, and is responsible for leading and implementing the company’s claims strategy. Over the past 15 years, he has held various strategic and claims leadership roles at Liberty Mutual and The Hartford. His background includes leading in workers’ compensation, group benefits, auto, property and catastrophe claims organizations. For helpful information about workers’ comp insurance that shares the important role it plays in protecting your employees when they are on the job visit https://pieinsurance.com/workers-compensation-insurance/.