Beyond the Claim
Beyond the Claim

Episode 10 · 3 months ago

What Companies Get Wrong About Return-to-Work w/ Darren Cartwright


When someone has an illness or an injury, we tend to tell them to take all the time they need… except when it’s a work-related injury.

Then, most companies rush to get a modified work program in place — and this inconsistency can be a costly mistake.

In today’s show, guest Darren Cartwright, Claims Consulting Practice Leader at Woodruff Sawyer, explains how companies can avoid this costly — and even illegal — mistake.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Why treating various disabilities differently is a huge error
  • How companies can improve their leave-of-absence policies
  • How to remove the silos between disability and workers’ compensation  

Need more claims strategy in your life? Check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on our website.

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Having consistency across the board and how you approach return to work is a very big deal, just from a cost standpoint but also from a secondary claim standpoint. You're listening to beyond the claim, the show for forward thinking risk and claims professionals curious about the latest industry trends, winning strategies and stories from influential leaders. Let's dive in. Hello everyone, thank you for joining us on this episode of beyond the claim. I'm your host, Mark Cunningham, chief sales and marketing officer with broad spire. Today I have the pleasure of joining me Darren Carr Right, theren's claims consulting practice leader with Wood Roof Sawyer. Darren will thank you, mark very much. Thanks for having me on yes thank you for joining us. So those of you listening, I'm on the East Coast. Daring's on the west coast and it's someone early for him, so I appreciate you getting yourself prepared for us early in the morning. Darren. You I want to get into a ton of your your experience and background. I think it's it's unique in that you touch both, you know, the the risk management and benefits space. Some two cases today we see both of those falling under the total rewards of umbrella, but not very often. But you know, we still see a very silo approach to dealing with these life changes, in life events and in a way that is actually a singular for the individual. But before we re jump to that end of the pool here there, could you induce yourself to the audience and give us an idea of your background and experience? Absolutely, and I've been extremely fortunate in my career to have had great opportunities and work for really good companies and really good people. If I started off in out of college working on the adjuster side and workers compensation. Wanted to go in law enforcement actually, but at the time just wasn't happening and I had a buddy that said hey, come over, give us a there's a lot of investigations and law here. I think you'll enjoy it. So that's where it's started. Right. Nobody really plans to go into claims adjusting, but love the the workers comp piece of it. That's kind of my core background. Was An adjuster her for about seven years and then transitioned over to the brokerage side work with marsh fantastic company. Had A great experience with them in San Francisco, saw a little bit different side of it, and then what that helped me see was the challenges that employers are facing, which is, you know, very little time in managing not just the occupational components of a claim, but also the non occupational piece and the non occupational pieces of where I really saw opportunity for myself as a growth area. So got a unique opportunity to go to work with people soft, which was one of our clients at the time that I was working with as they leave of absence, disability and Workers Compensation Manager, actually housed in the benefits group. So I oversaw everything. I was the buyer for all those programs, which is kind of a unique situation because, you indicate just minutes ago, a lot of times it's siloed risk, safety, legal could all be involved HR. So with that opportunity, though, what I did is I work closely with group of folks internally, as well as our broker, which at the time was was marsh, to put together in integrated disability management program where we combined the leave of absence, the workers compensation as well as a short term and long term disability programs. I can talk a little bit more about that if you like little later. So did that for several years. Then, unfortunately, people soft was acquired and I went over into a risk management capacity for brief time at clorox. Then transitioned over to Woodruffe, where I've been for the last almost seventeen years. Was the claims, workers compensation, claims team manager there and now I'm the the practice leader for all of claims at wood or Sawyer. So I oversee the teams that manage...

...on all of the Workers Compensation Consulting area, property, all the casualty lines of the general liability and auto as well as the management liability lines, which include directors and officers, Eano, cyber employment. pract this is so now I'm kind of like a inch deep and a mild wide at everything I do. Don't handle as much client interaction and facing contact as I would have would I like to do, because that's really what I have fun at doing and just developing those relationships. That's kind of mean and, a nutshell, excellent. And so you are on your out of California right. I am Bay area. Yeah, Nice, very nice. I was out there earlier this year of the family amazing ride down the coast from San Francisco to La Beautiful State. So you touched on a few things. The law enforcements to the adjuster life. We've seen many transitions. I think that's one that I haven't heard yet. I can see the correlation there from a from a skill set, an aptitude standpoint. That's pretty interesting. That's that's pretty cool. But going back to your time, and I do want to come back to cyber and, you know, I think there's some interesting things going on. They're love to hear your perspective on. Just quickly touched on some things that around an integrated you know, a model of people so oft and just in general. This is a trend, probably often times for large employers for some you know, for some obvious reasons, but I also kind of ebbs and flows in, you know, the interest. I think the value is always there. What were some of the things that you were trying to accomplish? Me were some of the challenges that you were presented with and how you overcame them. So what I found the most interesting mark when I went to people soft and so I knew the workers compiece. That was easy. The leave of absence world is crazy. It's so you've got federal than each state has its own, you know, Little Niche Liab rules and laws. But what I found really interesting was that when you look at the actual cost of absence, so if you don't look at it through a lens of occupation, occupational injuries or non occupational, just look at the absence piece of it, almost probably eighty five percent of absences are actually on the non occupational side, but employers tend to focus a lot on the occupational piece of it for whatever reason, and well, there's good reasons that they do. But really I thought saw the lowhanging fruit is being the non oxide. And some of it you can't prevent, like pregnancies rate. That's just part of life. But some of the questions that I started asking when I was at people's offt was, are we able to quantify the cost of absence? So having mark cunning him out on any given day or for a period of time, what's the actual cost to the organization through missed opportunities both clients or replace some of the hard costs of having somebody come in and take your spot, mistakes that might happen over time, or and then just the cost of you being out short from long term disability, benefits utilization, things like that. So any given point in time, do you know in your organization how many people are absent on that day and for what reasons? So when you look at data and analytics, and I listen to some of your previous speakers who were spot on with regard to, you know, analytics driving good decisions around benefit how you put together a good benefits program so it just as a quick example, what we noticed was there were a number of folks that were out for on nonoccupational leave, run just mental health issues. When we looked at our benefits program at that point in time, there was only there was a very limited amount of healthcare around counseling or benefits around counseling available to employees. So we work with our broker, our carrier to increase that number and it was really very little cost... the organization but it was a big benefit to the employees who then could get additional assistance and stay at work, stay productive at work, help them work through some some issues. And so there's a lot of things like that and it could be diabetes, smoking, cessation, just general health and fitness components of of a program, the total wellness, but if you know the the cost of absence is something that I think is really important for folks to track and to understand what's driving it. So curious there because I think you have a additionally unique perspective and you were operating as the employer there. Assume in your kind of current and your consulting practices that you've had for some time now, that you provided that same guidance or similar guidance to your clients. I've found historically that you know it's challenging. You mentioned work comp and you see some of those real tangible expenses coming out of a occupational disability. I often compared it to a medical spend where you're seeing real tangible ambilatory, out of network, etc. Expenses that you want to now manage a trend towards as a employer and as a, you know, as a provider. Right. And then often times we get challenged with the absence component because some of the things you spoke about, the absentee ISM, the covering of deaths and the inadequacy of a program they're not as talent tangible. So have you come across these challenges it? Have you make created a calculator of sort that you're able to now the measure this in a way that is resonating with, you know, then resonated with the people so often is within within your current clients. So I tell you, phenomenal resource available to employers and everybody. Actually is the integrated benefits institute, and not from not being paid by IBI at all, but IDI is a nonprofit, a think tank around absence. That's all they do and focus on is absence. They don't promote additional or any programs specifically, but a lot of their funding comes from tpas and carriers on the non oxide as well as on the occupational side, to just help measure and quantify and they have some really unique tools that you can plug specific data in, in variables in and spit out some meaningful information for employers to use to identify opportunities. Some of the unique components of an integrated disability management program that we we found a people soft and really liked and I use now for might the clients that I work on is, you know, it's kind of a single well, you can have it, so it's a single intake. So regardless of why and employee is out of work. There's one number that they call and there's some, you know, upfront questions to help figure out, you know, is this going to be occupational or non occupational, or is it just a family leave right? Is there a disability component or is it a family component? So there's specialists that help coordinate that. And then the other benefits are if somebody has a work related injury and they're losing time from work, so they have a claim and an adjuster with workers comp person. So also on the company side they need to apply for a leave of absence, so they may have a an additional adjuster on the leave of APPS and side. And maybe they also have a unique short term disability plan that tops up on the benefit for the workers contemporary disability. So you might have a yet a third ad gesture that you're working with, and these could all be different carriers as well. So now you also have the challenge of providing medical documentation to support all of these claims to three different people, and they may have three different nurses on the case file as well that are helping manage...

...this. So with the integrated program you have one single nurse usually that's kind of overseeing and coordinating the benefits, coordinating the doctor's note to make sure it's sufficient and it gets to all three individuals. It's a lot easier for the employee. So it's a huge benefit for the employee. And then another great benefit is the aggregation of data, so the AC versus nonnock leave, family leave, the incidences in the durations under a single database and then being able to use that information to help produce better results, increase productivity within the organization, find opportunities to help employe through common health issues that might be occurring. It's a great, great way to do it. And then the last point I'll make two is return to work, and this is a really big deal because what I found clients doing is treating the return to work process very differently with occupational workers comp claims, versus a non occupational medical issue. So if somebody has cancer or a broken leg, they say I'll just stay home and get better. When if somebody has an injury at work, what's the first thing we try to do? We try to bring them back into the workplace as quickly as possible in or a modified disability or modified work arrangement. So you're now treating people differently and under the eyes of the law, a disabilities of disability. So having consistency across the board and how you approach return to work is a very big deal, just from a cost appoint but also from a secondary claim standpoint, because if you don't do that consistently and somebody catches onto that, you might have an employment practice as claim that comes in after that. Yeah, I think you mean the experience alone. I think something you nail that the treatment should be similar, the event is the same. How we fund it shouldn't relate to how we treat it to some degree and we need to promote that type of kind of, you know, singular focus on the individual. So I think you definitely nailed it with the turn to work piece. Are you seeing even today, I guess, that from a employer perspective, that there's buy into the benefits of that that type of approach set mark. That's probably one of the big challenges I think that's out there. Is really kind of a siload approach a lot of times within organizations, and it's nobody's fault. Is just the way a lot of organizations are structures. So human resources owns benefits in the the disability and leave of absence programs. Generally right, workers compensation tends to fall under finance, risk legal depending on the size of the organization, and those two don't always speak with one another or want to share, and they may have different finance structures as well. So, which is another piece that needs to be evaluated carefully, is how do you transfer the risk, the costs associated with your workers calm your short term long term disability? Do you fully ensure it is are reductible a self insured retention? Pending on the organization, what I always recommend is one have a good risk management broker partner that'll help bring all of this together. So you I think that employers should take an enterprise approach to absence in disability and safety. So even though there they may fall under different departments, those folks should be together, collaborating frequently, quarterly, if not monthly, about the trends and losses that they're seeing and then have a unified approach and goal to how it gets financed. Yeah, thank you again. Now there it. We see that often today in our current environment in the industry as well, and it's I think they're we're seeing the most success when there's also some...

...agreement internally. Before it comes to us, it's difficult to make the case, you know, if you if you don't see the you don't see the need, it's hard to really get a community to buy in that there's an opportunity here to really benefit both the employee and the broader, I think, a company. But as soon as either there's any inclination that yeah, there's a we can do better. You know, I think that's a great opportunity for consultants like yourself, you know, groups like ours, to really engage them and show them what a future world could look like. So that's great. It's great. I wanted to pivot a little bit. You touched on in your opening, you know, the cyber and IANO space, and we have a wide ranging audience where some that's a Monday through Friday for them and others don't know what you're talking about. And here cyber or thinking, oh we're talking, are we going down to path, you know, computer program or something. So before you I kind of dive into what what if it's at is doing now within that space. What does that even mean when you talk about those those topics? What does that mean as it relates to kind of the wristbands in space. And one of the fastest evolving areas of risk is in the cyberspace. And what's cyber is or cyber insurance is? It's a cover to its policy that helps protect employers or insurance companies from the of any event that comes in from a bad actor or that may be caused by a bad actor, such as a data breach or ransomware. In another evolving area that we see is called is falls under social engineering, and I'll talk about that in a second, but the watch the news and you will see all the time, you know, certain countries being named that are infiltrating, you know, or power system banks, in large tech firms, bioscience firms, life science firms, and stealing their information, so not only stealing the information, but also shutting down their systems. And there are litany of laws that have come out, both in the United States and federal and statewide, as well as throughout Europe Asia, that are designed to make sure that employers or companies have the safeguards in place and are being held responsible to make sure your data is secured. So whether it's credit information or personal any type of personal identifiable information, Pii or personal health information Phi. There is a real obligation for you to keep that secure, which, in my opinion, is tall order when you when companies are actually trying to prevent this from occurring from nation states, right. So we're tucking the large countries with billions of dollars that are devoted to creating havoc in the system. And as the as the risk is, what's being in sure and not the minigation necessarily? Or is it? Is it both? Or how does that so? A lot of different things happening in the policy will cover different again, the devil's in the detail. So all policies cover something a little bit differently, and this is where employers would work very closely with their their broker to make sure that they get the cover that they need. So if it's ransomware event, bad actor somehow gets in. So we're all trained very carefully. Don't click on anything or open anything that you don't recognize and for sure don't click on a link or don't open up an attachment if you don't know what it is. Don't do it. But people do it, and whether it's on your phone or on your laptop, once you do that the bad actor gets in code immediately, gets in and takes over the system, or they can just sit there for a long time undetected and collect information. But it's sometimes they you'll walk in in the morning. We have clients where they've walked in the morning and there's a big skull and crossbones that literally POPs up on their monitor and that's...

...a ransomware and they'll say there will be a message if you want your data back, they will completely shut down their systems, lock out everything. So if they don't have good backups and they're they're really in a tough spot. Unless you pay us so much money in Bitcoin, is usually the the the monetary transfer method. Your data will be released to the black market, the dark web, and you'll never get it back and we're going to your systems are going to be shut down. That's a ransomware event. We also see where bad actors get into systems and they will monitor emails, they'll look at invoices that are coming in or that are going out to clients and what they will do is the social engineering part, is they will change the invoices and the wiring instructions. So when you with broad spider sends and invoice to one of your clients and the can take one of your colleagues emails and email address and they're very good at what they do. They send it to any of your clients. They AH, we've we've changed our wiring instructions, so please pay us now in this account. Your client has no idea, right and they do that and they that money goes directly into the bad actors account. So there's coverages for that. There's coverages for negotiation, but the bad actors, there's laws around negotiating with bad actors. So in some cases the US government actually prohibits you paying at ransom, depending on who the actor is. So there's a lot going on there and having a broker that is a specialist in cyber and has a claims team that can assist you when an event does occur is really important. And don't sit on it. If any advice, just like any type of claim, report it to your broker as soon as possible, immediately, so we can get the ball roll on on that. I think sixty minutes. Recently had a de fake episode and when detail not just to where we are today, but which was amazing considering it. We don't realize how far long we are aware the the industry will be in a near future and the exposure that presents. And a lot of it details of what you just know, your outline. So I guess my last question wouldn't be as a broker. When would you and how would you and maybe one are the triggers to employers? Are they well, maybe a two part question. Are you seeing that this type of risk is, you know, primarily as a broker, you working primarily with carriers or the employers captives, and then too or two of that would be what's the what's the truer? What is the when would you tell them to look for you have not now already you know when is when? Is it too late? What is the how do you and when do you want to be engaged? So reporting triggers are so important and having a risk management team or whoever you're the insurance buyer is having a solid understanding of when to reach out in contact your insurance broker is really important. In a lot of companies have processes in place for when an event does occur, which is great to help mitigate any type of loss that that's going on. But part of that should be bringing in the broker right away because under certain policies, in certain types of coverages, that notice needs to happen immediately because if you start to negotiate or make payments or engage vendors to help you mitigate the loss before you go to the carrier, all those costs may not be covered and they may not be approve vendor. So the carrier may actually say you're using this vendor, you can't use them anymore, we're going to have you work with you know vendor be and then the process starts all over again and nobody is happy then because they had an expectation, the expectation wasn't met and it's just a mess. But your first part of your question, we work so under the cyber component. We work directly with... companies and the insurance companies have a process set up so they have vendors that will help with the recovery, with forensic data scientists that get into your system and help you assess the damage and scan the dark web to see what's out there. So it's there's a process in place and again, having knowledge and education around round what to do when event and occurs contacting or broker right away and you're late. You know the one of the first things that happens is you get on the engage and you get on the phone with a lawyer, so that way all the communication is protected as they go through the assessment, the loss assessment process. You want that to be privileged. So you don't want that to be able to somebody just peanot that information and get its until you fully understand what the scope of the loss is and then you can put processes in place to recover, mitigate and also the PR aspect. So big firms that have gotten hacked, you know they there's a real bad public opinion perception when you hear a bank or a hospital gets hacked and all their information is stolen and put on the dark web. Well, Dren something tells me that you won't be lacking for business in that space, force believer or the other side. But yeah, I mean it's good to know that their individuals and organizations like yours that are prepared to support and hopefully we can get ahead of you know this, these situations and and these events and bad actors that are out there preparing to do serious harm in many cases. So thank you so much. I was extremely insightful. Before we close. You know what's the best way to folks to get in touch, especially as relates to side or clearly, but just in general, if they're interested in getting your your thoughts, opinions, and you know your consult on I ams. Linkedin is a great spot. All my informations in Linkedin. Darren Cartwright, I'm probably the only darn card on there. So cell phone and email or their please feel free to reach out. Excellent. I age myself. I'm sure you receive plenty of Pinta Rosa references over the years right, and for those of you don't know what I'm talking about, you're too young. So I don't worry. I get a lot of those, and my wife is actually Angela Cartwright, so she gets a lot of the lost in space and sounding music references as well. And they will move on when anyone that knows about it will be able to remember it at some point. But daren, thank you so much. This is great. I know we covered a wide range of topics, but I think that very appropriately deep and insightful and I know the audience will appreciate it. So thank you so much for joining us and sharing your insights and your experience with us. Thank you, mark, I appreciate it. You've been listening to beyond the claim, a podcast for risk and claims leaders. To ensure you never miss an episode, please subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player, if you use apple podcast. We'd love for you to give us a quick rating for the show. Just tap the number of stars that you think the podcast deserves. Until next time, stay curious and keep innovating.

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