Business insurance Wisconsin experts are urging compensation claims handlers to think outside the box when it comes to solving long-standing cases.
“We have found a growing need in the industry to start creating more efficient ways of settling cases that really would be more innovative than traditional”, says Kathryn Tazic, Chicago-based senior VP with Sedgewick Claims Management Services.
“The weak economy, among other factors, have prompted more claimants to accept settlements in the form of trips, gift cards and even boats, helping bring difficult claims to a close”, adds Tazic.
Indeed, business insurance Wisconsin agents have also seen an increase in injured workers who want gift cards to a preferred retailer as part of their workers compensation settlements. At times, such cards can be loaded with as much as $10,000.
Greg Gitter, president of San Diego based Gitter & Associates Inc. said the key to settling many difficult claims is listening closely to what an injured worker needs or wants.
His firm has devised several settlements that go beyond traditional cash offers. In one case, a claimant was reluctant to accept a $50,000 settlement.
“In conversations with the worker and his attorney, the man mentioned that going to Oregon to bass fish had always been one of his dreams. We decided to use that information to offer him a $38,000 bass fishing boat plus about $8,000 in cash. He accepted almost immediately”, says Gitter.
Business insurance Wisconsin companies believe that appealing to the claimants’ emotional side, providing benefits that they otherwise may not have been able to afford is what makes this strategy so successful at times, all in lieu of cash that would be used for physical therapy or recovery expenses.
“You tie it to a finite number as opposed to having to negotiate something open-ended, where they may be more reluctant to accept the money because they are not sure it’s enough”, says Dave Dietsch, VP of claims for Lockton Cos Inc., a Kansas City Insurance company.
And while claimants can theoretically use the settlement money to make purchases or investments of their choosing, Tazic says workers want to accept settlements that meet their unique needs.
“It depends on the individual, their needs, their psychology and where and how they want to spend their money”, explains Tazic.
“One case involved a woman who lost use of her legs and one of her arms after suffering a work-related hand injury. The claimant eventually asked the insurance company for a wheelchair to replace her old one, even though she wasn’t entitled to receive one“, claims Tazic.
“Rather than turning down her petition, we offered her the wheelchair as a condition of her going to a physical rehabilitation facility. We also called her up frequently and sent her flowers to motivate her. Today, she is walking again”, concludes Tazic.
Still, business insurance Wisconsin agents strongly advise on carefully listening to what the claimant has to say to find clues on what he might want or need and have a genuine desire to reach a solution without being to forward about the offering, as the claimant might feel manipulated.
Altogether, creative thinking in workers compensation claims can help improve costs and case management for cases that are not heading towards a satisfactory settlement.