By David Chmiel
Toronto-based Samuel, Son & Co., Ltd. has had a relationship with HUB for more than 90 years. So six years ago when a reorganization within the company happened, there was a need to put more emphasis on the sharing of information between the company’s various locations throughout North America.
One thing that became apparent was a number of legacy Workers Compensation (WC) issues, including a somewhat fragmented approach to settling and processing claims, which had traditionally been handled at the local level. The company needed to develop a unified approach to Workers Compensation claims, including legacy claims, and gain better control of WC costs company-wide.
The metals and manufacturing company turned to HUB for help structuring a single Workers Compensation claims program for their 43 U.S. locations and 2,400 U.S. employees.
“We have locations in numerous jurisdictions – Wisconsin, Florida, New York, Mississippi – each with its own unique issues around workers’ compensation and claims compensation,” said Joe Galasso, Corporate Director of Health, Safety and Environment for Samuel. “HUB, with its expertise in U.S. claims management issues, has been able to give us valuable guidance and advice.”
HUB’s first order of business was to conduct a GAP analysis of Samuel’s Workers Compensation claims process to determine what could be done to curb costs. From those findings a string of actions were recommended, including building upon the culture of safety through local WC training and support, a more robust return-to-work program and an aggressive claims closure program.
By combining cost containment measures with the reinforced culture of safety, Samuel saw significant results in just a few short years.
Since 2014 Samuel, Son & Co. was able to:
- Reduce loss-time accidents by 35 percent
- Reduce Workers Compensation claims frequency rate by 31 percent
- Decrease the severity rate of Workers Compensation claims by 23 percent and increase near miss reporting by 14 percent
- Cut WC litigation rate by 40 percent
- Resolve as many as 67 percent of legacy Workers Compensation claims in the first year of reorganization, with a savings of $800,000
- Shorten Workers Compensation claims reporting time from 14 or more days to less than ten
Seeing the bigger picture
Workers Compensation claims were traditionally handled at the individual, privately-owned and operated locations. So HUB’s initial objective was to transition benefits support to a central administrative department. Samuel put together a support team made up of employees, executives and insurance carrier staff to streamline communication. Together they developed standards to proactively address employee claims issues.
- Identified designated personnel to receive automatic alerts on all claims, no matter how small the settlement payment.
- Developed an email protocol for senior leaders within certain departments to receive emails when a claim is $20,000 or more. This layered system has helped keep Samuel aware of the larger picture regarding WC costs and issues.
- Worked with Samuel’s insurance carrier, HUB to reduce the number of adjustors on the company’s account from 20 to just five. This focused team fully understands Samuel’s culture and has developed a close relationship with the company over time.
- Further enhanced communication and transparency between parties by instituting monthly review meetings with HUB, the WC insurance carrier and Samuel to review all new claims submitted and flag potential issues. Quarterly claims reviews also provide a high-level overview of recent claims settlements.
These measures helped open the door for HUB to work with Workers Compensation claims adjusters at the insurance carrier to close 20 percent of all claims that had remained open for two years or more They were able to do that within one year and reduce settlement costs. The adjustors rose above and beyond the challenge, closing 67 percent of open legacy claims within the timeframe, saving Samuel as much as $800,000.
Focusing inward on education
Possibly the most significant and forward-thinking change Samuel experienced was educating management on how to file a claim. That may sound simple, but it led to significant results for the company. HUB conducted 15 webinars for Samuel’s district managers and human resources employees on how to file a Workers Compensation claim, including developing a standard injury report to maintain consistency across all locations, and mandating that all claims be reported within 24 hours of any incident. With this new process, reporting time has dropped from 14 or more days to less than ten.
“Training got people’s attention and with a combination of more accountability from our leadership team, they wanted everything to do with health and safety – it got everyone more focused on the issues at hand,” said Galasso.
In addition to restructuring its claims process, HUB recommended that Samuel shore up its right-to-work program, requiring all locations to provide light-duty work such as filing, answering phones or community outreach to those injured on the job. Thanks to this program, Samuel’s litigation rate dropped 40 percent in the last four years.
Of course, the best way to lower WC costs is to have fewer accidents in the first place. Samuel’s new “It Starts with Me” accident prevention campaign aggressively pushed the idea that safety starts at the personal level. Strongly supported by corporate leadership, the initiative educates employees about steps they can take to protect themselves from injury and how to report a dangerous or unhealthy environment.
With its new and improved culture of safety and a strong handle on current claims, Samuel, Son & Co. has effectively taken control of its Workers Compensation costs and is well positioned for the future.
“We’re making progress, but when it comes to health and safety you always have to look at what more can be done,” said Galasso. “We’re going to continue to work with our carrier and HUB in support of driving change forward.”