Workers’ compensation insurance is designed to protect you and your employees financially in the event of a workplace accident or unjust. Workers’ compensation insurance isn’t just a good idea, depending on your state it may be a legal requirement. When it comes to workers’ comp claims, the majority of them are approved because workers’ compensation is considered “no-fault”. Meaning that employees do not need to prove that their employer was at fault for their injury.
As long as the employee files their claim on time, has witnesses to their accident, and seeks medical treatment for their injury, the employee will receive benefits. There may come a time, however, when one of your employees files a claim that you find questionable. In this case, you do have options, including the option to contest the claim. Below we’ll look at how you can fight a questionable claim. As well as the impact workers’ compensation claims can have on a business.
Reasons To Dispute A Workers’ Comp Claim
You can’t fight a workers’ comp claim for no reason, you and your insurance company must have a legal basis for disputing any claims. Here are some of the reasons you could have for disputing a claim:
- Your employee missed the deadline to file a claim
- The wrong paperwork was used to file a claim
- The injury didn’t happen at your company
- Your employee quit before filing a claim
- The injury happened while the employee was at work but was not working
- The injury was intentional
Always File The Claim
Even if you suspect the workers’ compensation claim is false. You have to file it when the employee comes to you with it. You can be penalized if you fail to report a work-related injury with a full report of all related details as soon as possible. The insurance claim adjuster’s job is to determine whether or not the claim is valid or not. You are paying premiums to your insurance company so that they can handle these matters. If your report is thorough and you work closely with your adjuster, there is a good chance the adjuster will catch the fraudulent claim and deny it anyway. So, delaying or not filing a report because you think it’s invalid could backfire on you, best to just let the adjuster do their job.
Work With The Claims Adjuster
Once you’ve filed the workers’ compensation claim with your insurance company, an adjuster will be assigned to the case. They will contact you and the employee personally, as well as review all documents associated with the case including medical records. The adjuster ultimately decides if the claim will be denied, but at this point you will have more information about the claim than the adjuster. If you have reason to believe the employee lied, or was injured outside of work, now is the time to gather all information that supports why you think it’s invalid. Document, date, and save everything that indicates why you think the claim is fraudulent. Most importantly, inform your adjuster immediately that you believe the claim to be questionable. Indicating in your initial report that you believe there are reasons to deny the claim serves 2 purposes.
First, it lets the adjuster know they may need to file an extension early, since workers’ compensation claims have to be completed in a certain time frame, and disputing a claim will take more time to investigate. Secondly, marking your claim as questionable from the beginning will actually make your adjuster pay closer attention. They will spend more time looking through the paperwork, medical records, and searching for warning signs that otherwise may have been missed. Finding one of these red flags doesn’t necessarily mean anything, as accidents and coincidences do happen. But if an adjuster notices that more than one exists, they will look into it further to make sure if the claim is or isn’t fraudulent.
- A new hire who immediately filed a claim after being hired
- An employee who has immediately hired an attorney after the injury
- Claims from an employee who may have been “disgruntled”
- Employees with poor attendance, poor work records, or financial issues
- Injuries with no witnesses, or that happened in an area the employee isn’t assigned to normally work
- Injuries that occur late on a Friday or right when they return to work on Monday
Learn Your State’s Procedure
While workers’ comp is mandatory in almost every state, each state has its own laws and procedures for dealing with claims. Including disputing them. You can call your insurance provider and ask about what you need to know about local procedures. So you don’t accidentally make a misstep and cause trouble for yourself or your company.
If you want to learn more about your state’s specific workers compensation laws you can read our state by state guide here.
Dispute The Claim
You have the option to dispute even if the adjuster doesn’t deny the claim after the investigation. In some states, such as Texas, you have to submit a form or attend a hearing to dispute the claim in front of a judge. In other states, such as New York, or Tennessee, you may have to appear before a judicial panel or speak with a state-assigned workers’ compensation arbitrator. However, regardless of the state your company is in, you will most likely have to defend your position orally, in writing, or both. You will also need to provide all of the evidence you gathered when you first filed the claim and informed the adjuster of your concerns. Remember the “document, date, and save all information” part? This is where that step comes in handy.
How Workers’ Comp Claims Affect Businesses
Workers’ compensation claims tend to have a greater impact on smaller businesses. This is because larger companies have deeper pockets and larger payrolls, allowing them to absorb the financial cost with not much issue. Regardless of how big or small your business is though, workers’ comp claims can cause your business issues. Below we’ve detailed how claims can affect you. So, you understand why it’s important to fight fraudulent claims to protect yourself. As well as explain why doing everything you can to avoid workplace accidents is even more important.
Your workers’ compensation insurance premiums are determined by your industry, number of employees, payroll, and claims history over the last 3 years. A single claim will not necessarily result in a higher premium. But depending on the nature of the claim and the resulting medical bills and disability benefits even one claim could make a mark on your record. The more often you have workers’ compensation claims the more likely it is that your premiums will increase.
Additionally, your insurer also takes your experience modification rate (EMR) into consideration. Your EMR is how insurance companies compare your claims history to other companies in the same industry. The average EMR is 1.0, the more claims you have the higher above average you are. And then the higher your premiums will be because your company will be considered a higher risk to insure. Regular safety training and following industry-specific safety guidelines can help reduce your premiums.
Processing a workers’ compensation claim can take a lot of time. Especially if you’ve signaled that you believe it’s fraudulent. The insurance company will want to examine all relevant evidence, including the employee’s medical records. Effectively giving you or your claims specialist more work to do. Your company may also need to spend a lot of time and money to fix or check any equipment that was involved. As well as repair it if needed. Especially if the machinery involved is found to be defective after the accident. There may also be more paperwork and more hours involved in reporting the incident to state and federal regulators. Particularly if an OSHA violation is suspected. New equipment or training that stems from a regulator’s requirement can take a chunk out of your bottom line.
Legal Action Expenses
If you believe it is false, and you decide to take it to court you could also end up paying. While your attorney will advise you on whether or not you should go to court in the first place. Keep in mind if you lose the case, you will have significantly higher legal fees than you would have if you settled the claim. So, if you are planning on disputing your claim make sure your legal team agrees with the decision. And that you have absolute proof that the claim was fraudulent.
Impact on your company’s brand is difficult to predict. Your reputation can be affected by the severity of the accident. Whether it is covered by local news outlets, and whether it spreads on social media. A serious accident, repeated incidents, or OSHA fines could make it difficult to be able to hire new employees or get new customers.
Working With EZ
Workers’ compensation isn’t just about protecting your employees, it’s also about protecting your business. Nobody wants to deny a legitimate claim. But if you encounter one of those rare cases it’s fraudulent, you should know you have rights as well. And remember, EZ.Insure is here to help if you have any questions about workers’ compensation insurance. Or any other commercial insurance for that matter. We will connect you with a highly trained licensed agent. Who will listen to all of your concerns and make sure you get the best policy. To get started, enter your zip code in the box below or call 977-670-3538 to speak with an agent today.