"As the workforce continues to be lean, we are seeing significant stressors on employers and employees," says independent agent Michael Harter. "There have been increases in workplace violence claims, mental health claims and injury claims related to repurposing available employees."
President & CEO
McConkey Insurance & Benefits
How did you get started at your agency?
I was a multiline claims adjuster for a national insurance carrier and was the dedicated claims representative assigned to McConkey Insurance & Benefits. The agency wanted to add more resources toward actively managing more complex claims for clients, so they recruited me to join the claims department and be a business insurance executive.
Why workers comp insurance?
If you have employees, you are legally required to have workers compensation. The largest benefit in Pennsylvania is that workers comp is the sole remedy for a work-related injury. This allows the employee to secure the benefits needed to recover without the need to sue the employer or a third party. The employer can also continue to perform business without defending itself against an action by the employee.
Workers comp claims can carry more emotion than those from other lines because we are dealing with injured people. It is important to place clients with a carrier that will take care of employees and get them back to their preinjury condition, if possible.
Changes in the workers comp insurance market?
The desire of insurance carriers that traditionally would not place workers comp coverage without multiple lines to move into the monoline workers comp market. As rates and claim frequency continue a downward trend, there is increased pressure to capture market share. This makes keeping strong relationships with monoline workers comp carriers more difficult. They are necessary in more difficult times and moving business from them in better times is not an easy thing to do.
As the workforce continues to be lean, we are seeing significant stressors on employers and employees. There have been increases in workplace violence claims, mental health claims and injury claims related to repurposing available employees. People are performing job functions they haven't in the past—many without proper training.
The loss costs in Pennsylvania have reduced annually for the approximately last 10 years and one would think we are at the bottom of the pricing barrel. When claims start to take a turn for the worse, it will be interesting to see if the carriers who became monoline workers comp carriers reverse course.
Making a difference with workers comp?
When I was an adjuster, I handled a fatality claim involving an employee who was killed in a trench when the walls collapsed. I was the adjuster for the employer of the deceased on the workers comp claim. We managed to resolve the claim but needed to make a concession on the workers comp side, which I approved.
A few weeks later, when my son and I visited our favorite hot dog shop, a woman came up to us in her hot dog shop uniform—it was the widow. To my surprise, she was a long-time employee at the hot dog shop. She said that the money we agreed to pay her, including the concession, was going to make it possible for her to get to retirement without worry. That was the day I truly realized what good you can do with a claim and that the impact you can have on someone's life is significant.
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.