Top Technologies for Improving Customer Service

Written by on 3/27/2017 2:01 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

Smart business owners are turning to technology to deliver the fastest, most reliable customer service possible. Do you have the business tech tips you need to take advantage of these tremendous resources?

Don’t Miss Out On the Benefits of These Top Technologies:

  • Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) Applications
    Good CRM systems go beyond sales and marketing to encompass a broader customer tracking scope, linking support/problem tickets directly to accounts/contacts to get your staff on the ball before initiating contact. Never seen them? Check out Insightly or ZohoCRM.
  • Help Desk
    Service Desk applications offer a more amped-up CRM experience, with products such as ZenDesk and Freshdesk providing automation capabilities. A customer may submit their own support request from your website (or an employee can internally), which the system automatically schedules to the correct person/department based on the issue. Landline and mobile phone integration is also possible.
  • Chat
    Applications like Zopim or Live Chat help deliver the instantaneous answers today’s customers crave. (Sync with Help Desk or CRM for a data trail.)
  • Knowledge Management
    Knowledge base products like Desk and Answerbase take a while to setup – you must transfer all your business “knowledge” to these databases. However they offer customers fast access to answers, preventing cost/time sucks on your customer service/support staff.
  • Communication
    Options like Slack, Microsoft Yammer and HipChat allow for easy communication/integration between desktop and mobile devices – and save conversations.
  • Remote Connection
    Allows you to access customer tech remotely to more efficiently fix issues.
Hook up with the right tools and move to the head of the pack with the help of these business tech tips from your friends at Minnesota Comp Advisor.

High WorkComp Insurance Rates Impact More Than Just California

Written by on 3/22/2017 2:57 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

Findings in a recent report on workman's compensation insurance premiums in the Golden State show premiums continue to grow at double-digit rates. And California isn’t the only state where businesses are being hit hard by increases.

Mixed News
The report looked at developing trends in the wake of the state’s massive work comp reforms, including the impact of California Senate Bill 863. Though only 12% of the workforce, the state’s workers’ comp written premium adds up to more than a quarter of the nationwide total. The positive news: Rates aren’t much higher than they were nearly 40 years ago, and less than half what they were before 2003 reforms; The ugly: They’re on the rise.

Why So High?
Similar to the rest of the country, California’s rising premiums are a result of higher premium rates and growth in insured payroll resulting from economic growth and wage increases. What puts California at the top? The state has the highest frequency of permanent disability claims, and among the highest medical and benefits delivery costs. Higher treatment costs resulting from prolonged treatment and a rate of permanent disability claims more than twice the national median also did not help matters. An aberration in the claims frequencies in L.A. is driving the trend. Nix L.A. – and California would be similar to the rest of the country.

SB 863 Also Mixed Bag
Intended to reduce litigation costs, SB 863 has been somewhat thwarted by expedited hearings and increased Independent Medical Reviews, with medical cost savings (greater-than-projected), offset by losses to frictional costs.

Workman's compensation insurance rates getting painful? Minnesota Comp Advisor can help. Contact us today.

Benefits as a Share of Payroll Continue Downward Despite Rising Employer Costs

Written by on 3/20/2017 3:04 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

The nation’s workman's compensation insurance program provides for medical coverage for injured workers, as well as cash benefits for those whose injuries prevent them from returning to work. Paid for by employers with no deductions taken from employee paychecks, a recent study points to employers paying out continually increasing costs, despite historically low levels of benefits payouts overall.

The Cold Hard Facts:

According to the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) 19th annual “Workers’ Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs” report, despite growth in employment since the 2008 recession, coinciding with a rise in employees covered by workers’ comp, benefits per $100 share of payroll fell from $0.97 in 2013 to $0.91 in 2014 alone, continuing a national downward trend to beat 80's era levels.

Benefits Declined in 46 States from 2010-2014: 

WorkComp per $100 of Covered Payroll 2014 Dollar Change 2010-14
Total Benefits Paid  $0.91  -$0.10
Medical Benefits  $0.46  -$0.04
Cash Benefits  $0.45  -$0.06
Employer Costs  $1.35 -$0.10 
Benefits per $1 of Employer Costs  $0.68  -$0.13

Why the Disconnect?

Experts from NASI’s study panel point to a lag in the increase in benefits paid, particularly for costly, long-term injuries. Healthcare costs have also grown in the past 30 years, accounting for an increasing share of benefits, to rise from 29% in 1980 to more than 50% in 2014, accounting for a majority of workers' comp spending. Declining levels also point to reduced injuries and speedier return-to-work, however changes to state law limiting access to benefits may also play a role.

Don’t get raked over the coals by workman's compensation insurance premiums. Discover a new path to savings with the help of Minnesota Comp Advisor today.

What to Do When an Employee Repeatedly Calls in Sick

Written by on 3/15/2017 2:53 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

Employees who abuse the system, frequently calling in sick, may leave you wishing for a few “sick days” of your own. Luckily, a few simple employee management tips can help you curb abuse.

Stop the Insanity of Repeated “Sick” Absences:

  • Sick Days + Vacation Days = PTO
    Merging sick and vacation days together into paid time off (PTO) makes sick day abusers think twice about piddling days away from their vacation.
  • Require “Live” Call-Ins.
    No voice mails, texts or emails allowed. Requiring employees seeking a “sick” day speak directly with an immediate supervisor ups the ante.
  • Be Flexible.
    This may seem counter-intuitive, but most last minute “sick” days result from personal needs and stress. A “sick-only” absenteeism policy may be shooting you in the foot. The bonus? Increased workplace flexibility reduces stress, enhances feelings of freedom, and makes staff less likely to take advantage of paid leave policies.

Still Coming Up Short in the Staffing Department?
It may be time for a little one-on-one time with your problem employee, noting excessive absences and attempting to get to the heart of the matter. There may be underlying conditions, corresponding ADA accommodations, or even schedule adjustments that remedy the situation. Bottom line: Don’t assume you know why they’re calling in until you’ve had a face-to-face sit down.

Thinking Termination?
Make sure you know the laws, including state and federal leave laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires certain employers offer staff leave for themselves or sick family members.

Don’t let ignorance of laws leave you in sticky situation. Trust in the expert employee management tips of Minnesota Comp Advisor. Contact us today.

How do You Handle Medical Marijuana Treatment for WorkComp Claims?

Written by on 3/13/2017 2:28 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

California’s Proposition 64 and others like it have the workman's compensation insurance industry – and employers - scratching their collective heads. As the marijuana legalization trend continues to open up access to the drug nationwide, from medical to recreational use, the implications for the industry are, in many cases, still undetermined.

Compelled Compensation
Monitoring this developing area of the law and its practical impacts on safety and claims, the industry finds itself in uncharted waters. Pushed to provide coverage and payment for a drug as yet classified as “Schedule I” by the federal U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, insurers in states where its medicinal use has been legalized cannot be legally required to pay for it.

A Multi-Faceted Issue
As legalization loses its reputation for association with all but the most serious health issues, the floodgates may soon open for injured workers who view it as a viable option, including pain patients scared by the nation’s continuing prescription opioid epidemic. The flipside: Considering how use of the drug will affect compensation following subsequent work-related injuries of both medicinal and recreational users. Other considerations: Potential legal red tape and/or lawsuits involving the enforcement of drug-free workplace policies and the potential for costly retaliation and discrimination claims.

Destination: Unknown
As increasingly greater pressure is put on workers’ comp doctors, new laws are sure to go on the books forcing the issue, including a resolution of the current conflict between state and federal levels of government on legalization. When, you may ask, is anybody's guess.

Wish your workman's compensation insurance premiums would go up in smoke? Minnesota Comp Advisor has the insider information you need for savings. Contact us today.

An In-Depth Look at Return to Work Program Challenges: Part II

Written by on 3/8/2017 3:00 AM in , . It has 0 Comments.

Mistake #4: Overlooking Comorbidities
Health issues such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension seriously complicate/delay employee recovery, driving up claims costs. Proactively expanding preventive care/wellness initiatives is key to reducing comorbidity-related cost drivers.

Mistake #5: Insufficient Program Resources
In efforts to cut costs, many squeeze time and monetary contributions to RTW programs. However regulatory noncompliance and the indirect costs of employee absence are far more costly.

Mistake #6: Blurring the Lines Between Light Duty, Transitional Work, and Reasonable Accommodation
These lines should be distinct with: (1) light duty jobs reserved for disabled workers; (2) transitional to medically documented, occupational assignments, limited in duration; and (3) reasonable accommodation involving job changes to aid the disabled in performing essential functions.

Mistake #7: Letting Physicians Dictate the RTW Process
Physicians are medical experts, but not experts on your industry, and as such do not fully understand job demands, workplace policies, and availability of transitional assignments. Those without training in occupational injuries may also be unaware of evidence-based guidelines.

Mistake #8: Misunderstanding Legislation Conflicts
State and local legislation, federal ADA, workcomp, and FMLA laws, combined with insurance industry rules and regulations, can collectively equate to a logistical nightmare in determining eligibility and leave lengths to RTW and access to medical information. Expert advice is key.

Mistake #9: Getting Off-Track.
Focus on RTW program goals is essential in transitioning workers back to pre-injury status. Leaving employees in reduced-productivity positions too long negates progress and the ultimate goal.

Mistake #10: Assuming WorkComp Settlements Resolve Other Liabilities.
A settlement does not necessarily band-aid other obligations, which may be reconciled under other laws. Coordination and follow-through with your legal, risk management, HR, and benefits department ensures compliance.

Do you know how to manage workcomp insurance expenses wisely? Get the help you need from Minnesota Comp Advisor today.

An In-Depth Look at Return-to-Work Program Challenges: Part I

Written by on 3/6/2017 3:07 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

Return-to-work (RTW) programs are well known for their capacity to better manage workcomp insurance expenses and improve injured worker outcomes. However, they’re not all sunshine and daisies. Despite legislative efforts to protect employers from lawsuits regarding regulatory non-compliance, particularly with regard to the ADAAA, there's an array of common mistakes that often land businesses in hot water…

Mistake #1: Assuming State Laws Supersede the ADA
Federal ADA laws always supersede state workers’ comp laws, providing basic protection for disabled individuals. State laws may require more protection in certain areas, but they cannot remove or lessen ADA protections.

Mistake #2: Overlooking Situations in Which Employees are Covered by the ADAAA
The continued expansion of individuals defined as disabled by the ADAAA can greatly increase the number of employees entitled to accommodation. Employers will increasingly have to assess accommodations for workers, whether or not they occurred from personal or workplace injury/illness. Many labor employment attorneys now advise against fighting disabled status in favor of open discussion regarding accommodations. This interactive process is the linchpin of employer obligation under the ADA, with multiple high-profile cases pointing to analysis as integral to showing reasonable accommodation.

Mistake #3: Requiring Injured Workers be Released to “Full Duty” Before RTW
Full duty requirements may rob self-worth and motivation, often overblowing the seriousness of injuries, and increasing the likelihood of “disability syndrome” – failure to return to work after it’s medically possible.

Are you properly structuring your RTW programs to decrease ADA exposure? Manage your workcomp insurance expenses and steer clear of potential pitfalls with the help of Minnesota Comp Advisor. Look for Part 2 of our series on common RTW challenges.

The Gift of Life - Organ Donation

Written by on 3/1/2017 3:00 AM in , . It has 0 Comments.

This New Year, consider giving a new life to another person through organ donation. Organ donation wait times are staggering, with kidney transplant patients waiting an average of 5 years, and over 20% of liver and lung transplant patients waiting even longer. Twenty-two people die each day waiting for a transplant.

There's more than one way to save a life
Although most organ donations follow a declaration of death, some organs and tissues can be contributed from living donors. With the dire need of life saving procedures and an ever-growing waiting list, both types of donations offer hope to families that are helplessly waiting for the salvation of a loved one.

How could you save someone’s life?

• Living donation
Living donors can donate skin, bone, healthy cells, one of their two well-functioning kidneys (the remaining kidney provides the necessary function needed to remove waste), a liver segment (the remaining lobe regenerates quickly to nearly original size), lung lobe (with volume/size matching), a portion of their pancreas, and a portion of their intestine.

• Donation following death
A host of tissues including corneas, skin, bone, and organs can be donated following death, depending on the type (brain or cardiac).

Signing up for donation is easy
Learn more about live donation through the American Transplant Foundation. Sign up for traditional donation through your local DMV, via a living will through your attorney, or post-hospital admission. Through a living will, you can also advocate loved ones to make organ donation decisions for you if you’re unable.

Build your business by supporting and strengthening families within your community and across the U.S. Learn how with Minnesota Comp Advisor today.

What Are the Top 5 Injuries that Generate Workman's Comp Claims?

Written by on 2/27/2017 3:12 AM in , , , . It has 0 Comments.

The Injury Impact Report, recently released by the country’s largest workers compensation carrier The Travelers Companies, is shedding light on the most recent causes of workplace injuries. In a review of more than 1.5 million workers comp claims filed between 2010 and 2014 by businesses spanning different industries and sizes…

The top five injuries as a percentage of total claim include:

  1. Sprains and strains – 30%.
    • Topped all lists, except small businesses.
    • Resulted in 57 missed workdays on average.
  2. Cuts or punctures – 19%.
    • Topped the list for small businesses.
    • 24 missed workdays on average.
  3. Contusions (bruises) – 12%.
  4. Inflammation – 5%.
    • 91 missed workdays on average.
  5. Fractures – 5%.
    • 78 missed workdays on average.

The top five most frequent causes of injuries are:

  1. Material handling – 32%.
  2. Trips, slips, and falls – 16%.
  3. Collisions/struck by object – 10%.
  4. Accidents related to tools – 7%.
  5. Traumas that occur overtime (such as overuse/strain) – 4%.

Injuries with the highest average incurred costs
Typically occurring less frequently overall, these included:

  1. Shock.
  2. Dislocation.
  3. Amputation.
  4. Crushing.
  5. Multiple trauma injuries (simultaneous breakage of multiple bones.)

Industry prevalence
Data analysis also revealed injuries were more prevalent in some industries than others, specifically:

  • Materials handling, the top cause of injuries overall, is most common in the retail and manufacturing industries, equating to 40% of injuries in both sectors.
  • Falls from height were the leading cause of injury in both construction and retail.
  • Eye injuries are one of the most frequent types in construction and manufacturing.

Workplace injuries taking a toll on your workers comp costs? Stack the odds in your favor. Enlist the help of Minnesota Comp Advisor today.



Should Your WorkComp Medical Coverage Include Compounded Medications?

Written by on 2/22/2017 3:11 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

Commonly formulated for aches and pains, compound medications are really putting a strain on the workman’s compensation insurance industry. Custom-made for patients, these concoctions are increasing pharmaceutical expenditures in the workers’ comp arena nationwide, and are at the center of several high-profile fraud cases.

Feeling the burn
Ambiguous state laws and formulary guidelines are driving the trend of compounds. Taking advantage of loopholes in the system and despite a lack of evidence that such creams actually work, compounding companies are playing the numbers game. Evidence show them submitting multiple bills for large amounts in excess of $5,000, earning excess profits with a single claim approval, and costing the system millions for grossly overpriced products such as Bengay.

Playing the game
Compound drugs previously accounted for just a small percentage of workcomp spending. Prescribed in cases where patients can’t tolerate commercially prescribed medications due to allergy or limitations, they are medically proven and necessary. However with creams for pain and inflammation, minimal absorption levels negate the necessity of these drugs for the prevention of allergic reaction.

Previously a last resort, these compounds are now being exploited as an avenue for compounding pharmacies to make money, rather than as a necessary alternative. State and federal prosecutors are even finger-pointing doctors believed to have received kickbacks in exchange for compound prescriptions. In The Postal Service alone, compounds rose from 8% of prescriptions and 6% of costs in 2011, to 34% of prescriptions and 53% of costs in 2015, costing the Postal Service an average of $390,000 a day in compound drug costs.

Workman's compensation insurance costs compounding on you? Minnesota Comp Advisor has the cure. Contact us today.

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