March 23, 2017

Changing Workers’ Comp in the Ag Industry

By Ken Cooper

Workers’ compensation insurance is too often thought of as a generic commodity; a mandatory purchase that is simply part of the cost of doing business, with little to differentiate one program from another.

The truth is that a workers’ comp policy is just one of many tools for mitigating the financial risks of workplace injuries. The policy itself is only designed to deal with the effects of an injury claim, but does nothing to help you minimize the risk of accidents or manage the costs of claims and future premiums.

In other words, workers’ comp insurance is designed to be reactive, not proactive. Doing little more than purchasing coverage is like buying auto insurance and then leaving your car unlocked overnight in a high-crime area. If it’s stolen or vandalized, your policy might cover the loss, but it will come at a cost of time, energy, and higher premiums.

Insurance policies provide protection in the event of a worst case scenario. It’s still up to you to do your best to prevent such a scenario from occurring in the first place.

A comprehensive workers’ comp program goes far beyond simply paying out claims. It must provide the resources you need to prevent injuries before they happen, and help you properly track and manage claims when they occur. To provide a proper fit, an insurer needs to have specialized knowledge of the agricultural industry, understand your unique business situation, and offer additional safety and loss control services to help you manage your risk.

The Western Growers workers’ comp program leverages more than 30 years of ag Industry expertise, giving us the insight required to offer WG members high-level solutions usually reserved for only the largest employers. In addition to providing workers’ comp policy coverage from A-rated carriers, we provide specialized loss prevention and claim cost mitigation services to ensure you have the right risk management strategy in place—helping to minimize claims, reduce premiums, and lower the costs associated with workers’ comp.


Loss Prevention

The first step to minimizing workers’ comp-related costs is to prevent injuries from occurring. Our safety experts will help you maintain a secure work environment and uncover hidden risks by:

•    Assessing your worksite, reviewing your safety protocols, and providing guidance to help make your workplace safer.

•    Providing on-site, bilingual safety training for your entire organization.

•    Analyzing your loss trends to identify problem areas and get ahead of potential future issues.

•    Developing a loss control plan to reduce the number of workers’ compensation incidents and mitigate future losses.


Claim Cost Mitigation

When claims do occur, it’s critical to properly manage the process in order to minimize claim costs and future premiums. Our experienced workers’ compensation claims management team will help you implement a program to:

•    Identify and fight fraudulent claims.

•    Manage claims so that they settle out for the smallest total cost possible.

•    Track claims that affect your experience modifications (ex-mods).

•    Provide you with reports that show the status of each indemnity claim, indicate the corresponding plan of action to resolve it, and project how future premiums may be affected.

As an employer, there are many steps you can take to reduce the risk of workplace injuries and positively impact the safety of your workforce. The challenge is understanding how to assess your situation and implement changes in a way that’s cost effective and doesn’t disrupt the day-to-day operations of your business. One of the many advantages of Western Growers membership is access to insurance products, guidance, and resources to help you manage a comprehensive workplace safety program as efficiently as possible.