Reporting Sooner Is Better

Stuart Clark, Claims Manager at Beehive Insurance

Growing up in the Los Angeles area in the ’60s and ’70s was filled with many unforgettable experiences. We lived on the west side of the San Fernando Valley, a place now overloaded with houses and strip malls. Back then there were fields and open spaces just waiting to be explored. In a field close to my home and just west of Shadow Ranch Park, my friends and I had built a fort. Our personal sanctuary where we could hide and escape from our siblings. We were shadowed by large eucalyptus trees and very close to a row of pomegranate trees that supplied the best tasting fruit we had ever known. We were in heaven. One late summer day our fort was destroyed. Some older kids at a distant corner of the field started a small fire that was soon out of control. The long dark green grasses of spring, now dried by summer’s heat, were the perfect fuel for a fire. When we saw the smoke, we ran from the fort and hid in a friend’s backyard, “laying low” so we would not be blamed for the blaze. Of course, we did not report the fire to anyone. It seems that no one reported the fire quickly and before long most of the field was charred stubble. The Fire Department showed up late to the party and then focused on saving the eucalyptus and pomegranate trees. The only major structure lost was our fort. Some workers’ compensation claims are a lot like the field of dry grass. Once ignited, they burn fast and furiously. If they are not reported quickly they can, and often do, get out of control. Your best bet to contain the damage is to report the claim and get the experts on it as soon as possible. In my experience, it is never wise to think that it is just “smoke” and not a real “fire”. Let the insurance claims department make that determination. They are the designated “firemen” and they are there to keep the flames down and protect your interests.

Warehouse Managers

According to an NCCI study on lag time, injuries reported during:

  • Week two after the date of the accident cost an average of 18 percent more than those reported during week one.
  • Weeks three and four average a 30 percent greater cost; and
  • After four weeks, costs increase 45 percent!

Back injuries are even worse: they average 35% higher costs when reported after the first week. Reporting claims promptly also helps to:

  • Reduce friction with insurance companies – insurance policies often include requirements for prompt reporting.
  • Preserve employee morale – demonstrate to all employees that you take injuries and safety seriously
  • Maintain compliance – OSHA requires prompt reporting and recording of certain injuries

It is recommended that claims be reported within 24 hours after an injury. If you do not have all of the information on the claim, report it anyway and get your insurance company involved. You can always supplement the claims information as it comes in. Insurance claims are just like a brush fire. They can never be reported to soon, and delayed reporting never leads to anything good.  

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