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How to reduce employers’ liability claims

At a glance

  • Around 611,000 injuries occur in British workplaces every year
  • A proactive approach to rehabilitation can reduce the impact on all parties
  • Our Medical Management Team takes an innovative approach to rehabilitation, and its services are available to Zurich customers who meet the qualifying criteria

When employees suffer a work-related illness or are injured in the workplace, it can disrupt an organisation’s operations, attract a variety of hidden expenses and potentially result in costly employers’ liability (EL) claims.

Zurich Medical management rehab chart

Benefits of Zurich’s rehabilitation services:

  • Early intervention
  • Access to medical expertise
  • Employee involvement
  • Reduction in absence levels
  • Reduction in average number of days lost
  • Support for employees to return to work quicker or in some cases to remain at work and still receive treatment
  • Reduction in insurance claims

We look at how customers can reduce the impact of workplace injury and illness via a proactive approach to staff rehabilitation.

The true cost of workplace injury and illness

An estimated 611,000 injuries occur in British workplaces every year, while 1.2 million people are currently suffering from a work-related illness. This is thought to result in 27.3 million lost working days each year, costing individuals, businesses and government £14.3bn collectively.

Following a workplace injury or work-related illness, there is an array of uninsured, hidden costs likely to be incurred, which businesses frequently underestimate. These include:

  • Lost production
  • Overtime
  • Temporary staff
  • Recruitment and training

The importance of a good recovery

The size of both insured and uninsured costs are heavily influenced by the time taken for an individual to return to their pre-accident/illness level of fitness and function.

For example, the decision to recruit extra staff will depend on how long an employee will be absent, and whether they will be fit to fulfil their previous duties upon their return. The time taken to recover will also form the basis of any loss of earnings calculation, which can constitute a large proportion of EL claims.

How an employee’s recovery is managed can also have a bearing on whether or not they make a claim at all. In the majority of cases, an individual’s initial focus is on getting better. However, as time passes, they may develop a motivation to issue claims. This could happen for a variety of reasons:

  • They move to only receiving statutory sick pay, so begin to lose income
  • They start to incur costs related to their injury or illness
  • Their recovery stagnates and they look for somebody to hold responsible

Proactively assisting an individual’s recovery can therefore significantly reduce the wider impact of an injury or illness on all parties, get employees back to work quicker and minimise the chance of EL claims developing.

The value of expert assistance

Zurich customers benefit from the services of an expert Medical Management Team. This team is made up of medically trained Rehabilitation Case Managers (RCMs), who are capable of providing a wide range of solutions to assist with an individual’s recovery.

For example, if physiotherapy is recommended, but the NHS has several weeks’ wait, our RCMs can arrange for private physiotherapy to expedite recovery. Similarly, our RCMs can work with employers to manage recovery expectations, and help create the best conditions to facilitate a return to work, such as lighter duties or a graduated return.

“The Medical Management Team adds huge value for customers and their employees,” says Lynette Grocott, Claims Team Manager at Zurich. “At the earliest stages they will have a telephone interview with the individual concerned to establish their best route to recovery and any potential barriers. The team then maintains a proactive involvement throughout the process, staying in continual contact with the individual, their medical practitioners and their employer.

“We record detailed information on the benefit our RCMs generate, to show customers what they have saved through a proactive approach to rehabilitation. For example, on a musculoskeletal injury, we estimate that on average we save up to 20-60 days’ recovery time for acute conditions, depending upon the severity ranging from minor to severe.

“Our actions not only help to reduce the overall impact and cost of injury and illness, but also have a significant impact on customer claims experiences. We have many clients that now have more rehabilitation cases with us than claims, which speaks volumes for the value of the service.”

An innovative approach

While many insurers share our focus on recovery, services are typically delivered by external providers, with the cost often forming part of a claim’s final value.

Zurich is unique in that our Medical Management Team sits within the claims function and is completely available to customers who meet the qualifying criteria. This can generate immediate savings on every injury or illness claim, for example by eliminating the cost of commissioning an external medical report, which can add several thousand pounds to a claim.

All of our RCMs also hold insurance expertise – with two thirds currently CII qualified and the remainder working towards accreditation. Having that awareness from an insurance and business perspective, and working alongside Zurich’s claims handlers, also results in much more practical and effective solutions for all parties.

Case study – saving £6,000 on trip and slip

A 40-year-old woman tripped at work and injured her left knee. After seeing her GP, she was signed off work for two weeks and given pain medication, but no rehabilitation treatment.

Ten days into her absence, her employer referred the case to Zurich’s Medical Management Team, who arranged a call with her the same day. The team learnt that she was still experiencing significant pain in her knee, and had also suffered a similar injury two years previously (pre-dating Zurich’s policy), which caused her to be absent from work for 12 weeks.

The team arranged an immediate private physiotherapy consultation (the waiting list for her local NHS physiotherapist was 8-12 weeks). Alongside the physiotherapist, the team created a personal treatment plan, with the goal of returning to work as soon as possible. This included arranging for a graduated return to work and arranging lighter duties until she was at full pre-accident fitness.

The employee attended seven physiotherapy sessions, and was able to return to work less than a week after her first contact with the team. If she had she been absent for 12 weeks, as previously, using a conservative estimate of £10 per hour, this would have cost the business almost £6,000 in lost wages, plus a variety of hidden costs. The chances of her bringing a claim would have also greatly increased. Conversely, the treatment arranged by Zurich cost £285, helped her return to work just 19 days after her injury, and no claim was ever received.

For more information on how our Medical Management Team can help reduce the impact of illness or injury, please speak with your local Zurich contact.

Image © Getty

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