If you are looking for ways to keep your workers’ compensation insurance costs under control, it’s a good idea to take a look at your experience modifier. In fact, tackling your experience modifier is generally a far more effective method of lowering your costs than shopping around for cheaper workers’ compensation coverage. That’s because the experience modifier is used to calculate your individual rate.
However, many employers don’t fully understand how experience modifiers work. They don’t completely understand how lowering it can help them drastically reduce workers’ compensation costs. Let’s take a closer look.
What is an experience modifier?
The experience modifier is a formula insurance companies use to predict losses that an employer is likely to incur. To arrive at the experience modifier, the insurance company considers losses over a three-year period in history, not including the current policy period. It takes into account not only amounts actually paid as claims but also estimates of future payments for medical treatments or compensation that will be paid to make up for lost wages.
Your experience modifier compares your actual losses with the expected losses for employers operating similarly sized companies in your state and industry. If your experience modifier is 1.00, that means your losses match the average rate. A modifier that is higher than 1.00 reflects higher losses, while a modifier less than 1.00 means lower than expected losses.
Your experience modifier is used to calculate your workers’ compensation insurance premiums, so the lower your modifier, the less you’ll pay. Let’s take a look at ways to lower your experience modifier.
Toward a lower experience modifier
Here are a few tips on lowering your experience modifier:
Create a safer work environment. Since your experience modifier is derived from your workers’ compensation claims history over a three-year period, the most obvious first step is to create a safer work environment. A workplace focus on safety is a great way to improve morale and help keep costs down. Some companies form safety committees to find new ways to reduce workplace injuries and to provide training that helps employees stay safe.
Return employees to work as soon as possible. Another excellent way to keep costs down is to consider a return-to-work program for injured employees. Remember, workers’ compensation claims involve not only medical bills but also claims for lost wages. In many cases, injured employees who are not yet able to return to their former jobs can come back to perform light duty jobs while they complete their recovery. This helps lower claims costs. It’s a good idea to work closely with physicians who specialize in workplace injuries since they can more efficiently treat your employees and may have more experience authorizing returns to work for light duty assignments.
Hire the right people. Another long-term strategy for lowering your experience modifier is to implement good hiring practices. For example, you may want to consider a candidate background check and drug screening program. Employees who use drugs are far more likely to be injured on the job, lowering morale and driving up your costs. It’s always a good idea to be selective about whom you hire, and the likelihood of future on-the-job injuries is one more factor to consider.
The bottom line
When workers’ compensation insurance prices rise, it’s tempting for employers to shop around for new coverage. But the fact is, employers themselves control a major factor in determining rates: the experience modifier. Take control of your workers’ compensation costs by taking steps to create a safer work environment, return employees to work and hire the right people. Not only will you improve operations and employee morale, you’ll save money too.