Time Is Money For Workers' Comp Claims

April 21, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - When it comes to workers' compensation claims, delays only add to the cost.

Delaying workers’ compensation claims filing by a week can increase the claims costs by 10%. Claims filed a month or more after an injury cost an average of 48% more to settle than those reported the first week, according to data aggregated by workers’ compensation provider The Hartford Financial Services Group.

Further, Hartford found a growing disparity. Compared to a similar study four years ago, workers’ compensation claims reported a month after an injury averaged 45% more to settle – 3% less than in the current study. This trend, Hartford says, is indicative of the inflationary effect of rising medical and lost-time costs on claim-reporting delays.

“A delay in reporting a claim often means a delay in starting appropriate treatment. This adds to the recovery time and the cost of medical care and wage replacement – and can even make the difference in whether the worker will ever return to the job,” said Cal Hudson, The Hartford’s senior vice president, property-casualty claims.

For some injuries, time is an even more crucial factor. The Hartford found reporting back sprain and back strain during the first week can save an average of 25% of medical and lost-time costs, up from a 10% savings in the previous report. Additionally, carpal-tunnel syndrome and other nervous system-inflammation injuries cost 23% less if reported the first week, up from 20% in the earlier study four years ago.

The study is The Hartford’s analysis of more than 41,000 lost-time workers’ compensation claims filed between 2000 and 2003.