Week of July 3 - July 7, 2017             
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Welcome to your weekly WCI Newsletter. We have selected the top stories that appeared on our website this week to help you stay up to date on what is happening in the world of workers' compensation and insurance. Enjoy.
The Insurance Agent/Broker's Role in Workers' Compensation

Far too often, the insurance agent's role in workers' compensation has been viewed only as a means of obtaining mandatory workers' compensation coverage for the Florida employer. When an accident occurs on-the-job, the only personal contact that an employer has with the case is with the insurance agent and far too often, the agent's advice to his customer is to call the claims office for the insurance company. For the true professional insurance agent who really is concerned about his customer's interest, whether it be pricing of premiums payable, types of coverages, prevention of accidents, or handling of claims or just providing much needed general advice to the employer, simply referring the employer to the insurance company provides a great dis-service and oftentimes adds costs to the ultimate liability of the employer.

This year's focus at the Annual Workers' Compensation Conference sponsored by the Workers' Compensation Institute in Orlando, Florida (August 6-9, 2017, see complete program at is to present two days of breakout sessions for agents/brokers emphasizing the insurance agent's primary position in making any workers' compensation system work. In partnership with the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA), this year's agent/broker breakouts will focus on subjects not ordinarily discussed in training sessions for this important segment of the workers' compensation community. Agents/brokers should understand that they do play a very significant role in the workers' compensation system other than simply referring their customers to their insurance company. What exactly is the role of the agent/broker in claims handling? What does the claims handler depend upon the agent to do and what role can the agent play in assisting in the defense of a claim? What role should the agent not assume? Oftentimes, the "typical" reaction by an agent once a claim is filed is to do nothing, not knowing what would be helpful. Read more.
Wearable Devices Can Provide Cost Savings, but also Risks, for Employers

By Liz Carey

For companies with wellness plans, wearable devices like FitBits can be a way to engage employees, but, experts warn, there could be some risks associated with them as well. 

While the jury is still out on how wellness programs impact workers' compensation costs, the use of fitness trackers or wearable devices in wellness programs is beginning to take off.

According  to a study from ABI Research, it's estimated that by 2018, more than 13 million health and fitness tracking devices will be integrated into U.S. employers' wellness programs. By the end of 2016, nearly 21 percent of US adults with online access used a fitness tracker, and as much as 46 percent of employers offered some sort of subsidizing for wearable devices as part of their wellness program, according to  research from Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO). Read more.
Medical Misdiagnoses Cost Workers' Comp Systems Billions, Paper Says

By Liz Carey

As much as a fifth of medical diagnoses in workers' compensation claims involve errors that cost workers' compensation systems billions, a 10-year study from a medical consulting service found. 

Best Doctors, a leading medical consultation service in Boston, released a report Wednesday that found in an estimated 250,000 workers' compensation injuries, 21 percent of those cases involve a misdiagnosis and/or inappropriate treatment. In the top five percent of the most expensive workers' compensation claims, the error rates are estimated to be as high as 50 percent.

Those errors can add up to as much as $15 billion of the estimated $65 billion in workers' compensation expenditures nationwide per year, the study showed. Read more.
Business Leaders Accuse OH Legislators of 'Raiding' Workers' Comp to Balance Budget

By Liz Carey

Business leaders in Ohio are calling on their legislature to find other ways to balance the budget besides taking money from the state's Bureau of Workers' Compensation and Industrial Commission funds. 

A Senate-passed budget authorization allows the Ohio budget director to take up to 2 percent of a variety of funds to balance the budget. The funds - including the Industrial Commission, the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Insurance and others - are primary made up of fees and assessments paid by businesses for specific purposes.

"This language sets an extremely dangerous precedent of allowing the state to 'raid' the budgets of these exclusively employer-funded agencies," said a letter from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business)/Ohio, the Ohio Manufacturers' Association and the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, according to a story in the Columbus Dispatch. Read more.
Aerospace Company and L&I Settle Appeal of Violations Related to Explosion That Injured 17 Workers

A Spokane-area aerospace company will pay one of the largest penalties ever to the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) and will continue to be listed as a "severe violator" as part of an appeal settlement over safety and health violations at the company's Newport, Wash., plant.

Seventeen workers were injured in an explosion at the Zodiac Cabin & Structures Support LLC plant in July 2015. An L&I investigation completed in January 2016 found 17 willful violations, one for each worker who was injured and hospitalized. The company was also cited for 21 serious violations.

As part of the original citation, Zodiac was required to fix all serious hazards in the facility. That work has been completed. Read more.
Kudos to North Carolina

By Mark Pew
North Carolina's House Bill 243 / Senate Bill 175 was  signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper (yesterday) afternoon. That is a very good thing. Because contrary to some naysayers, the opioid epidemic is real. And deadly. Not just in North Carolina but everywhere in the U.S. and Canada. And unfortunately soon to be in other countries / continents if Mundipharma (aka Purdue Pharma) has their way,  per a letter from the U.S. Congress to the World Health Organization.

Why is this legislation (now law) a very good thing? Because it is a comprehensive suite of tactics to address the opioid epidemic within their state. Which you easy to understand from the bill's title -  Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act. Read more.
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