The Louisiana workers’ comp system is making news, and good news at that. The latest word out of the bayou state is that workers’ comp insurance companies have seen their books get healthier over the last year, meaning lower costs and claims for them. That translates into lower workers’ comp insurance premiums for the employers of the state—you!
The reason all this is possible, say my sources, is because the Louisiana workers’ comp insurance companies, for the most part, base how much they charge the state’s employers for the coverage by what the National Council of Compensation Insurance says is going on in the state with worker injuries and such. And this year, the NCCI reported to these insurance companies that employers in the state of Louisiana have seen the largest drop in costs in the entire country—by the rate of 15.8 percent.
So some of the biggest insurance companies in the state then asked the insurance commissioner of Louisiana for permission to drop their rates, and smaller companies seem to be following suit in the state, says the insurance department for the state. So far, as many as 27 workers’ comp insurance companies have asked the commissioner for a rate decrease. That is slightly less than one quarter of the entire workers’ comp marker in the state, but it is a good start, right?
It is a sure sign that safety efforts at employers all across the state have worked to some degree or another. The safety poster sets, the heat stress posters, the OSHA workplace safety packs, the lifting safety posters, the workplace ergonomics safety tips poster—you name the safety poster, they have their place in helping employees learn and remember how to be safe on their job, and that could lead to lower claims, lower insurance costs, and then ultimately lower insurance premiums in the future.
The state of Louisiana has slightly different injury and illness reporting guidelines compared to the other states we have looked at so far. But basically, the overall gist of them is the same—employees must report as soon as possible to you the employer when they have an injury that took place at work or because of work.
When they report to you about this injury, the next step is for the employee to then go through a medical examination that will be paid for by you (or your workers’ comp insurance). Afterward, the employee must always keep you updated with any change in his or her condition that might occur whether it be worsening or them getting better.
In the meantime, as soon as you receive notice of the employee getting hurt and have them go through the process of getting that medical check up, you must contact your workers’ comp insurance carrier. Not only that, you have to let the state of Louisiana’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration know. All of this must be done within 10 days of the accident report.
Keep in mind when you get the injury report from the employee and from the medical examiner that certain injuries do not get covered under workers’ comp in Louisiana. These include any injury that occurred because the employee was intoxicated when it happened, or when an employee intentionally hurts themselves, or hurts themselves while trying to hurt someone else.
If you can clear all of these hurdles, the next step in the reporting process in Louisiana is that Louisiana’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration will get in touch with you and the injured worker. While waiting for this to happen, make sure to have this info handy on the worker: their name, address, and job; the number of hours worker; their wages; and any work permits for the employee if they’re a minor.
In Louisiana, all employers there must have workers’ comp coverage for their employees. And what’s more, employers must be able to prove that they have the financial wherewithal to provide this insurance to their employees. Employers can either seek this insurance from an independent workers’ comp insurance company, they can do what’s called “self-insurance,” or they can participate in group insurance.
These last two are options that may represent a way for employers to cost costs. I am no insurance expert, folks, but I have hear that self-insurance can at least give you “control” over your money. Basically, it works by you putting aside your own money every year for the amount of workers’ comp claims that you think you will have. Then you dole that money out when the workers at your sites get injured. Compare that to regular insurance companies, where you give them a premium, and they then decide when to dole out your money.
Group insurance is another option that could possibly save you on insurance money. It works when many different employers get together and try to buy insurance together for their workers’ comp coverage. The general laws of economics dictate that you get a better price on wholesale, than you do with retail, right? So the more employees that get together, the cheaper their workers’ comp costs should be.
Another difference with workers’ comp compliance is the type of injuries that can spark a workers’ comp claim. In some states we have seen, there is a no fault system, meaning no matter what caused the injury, the worker gets their compensation. In the case of Louisiana, though, a worker cannot get workers’ comp if they intentionally hurt themselves at work, or hurt themselves while trying to hurt another worker. They cannot also get workers’ comp coverage if they were intoxicated at the time of their workplace injury.