The number-one workers’ compensation insurance concern of employers for the next 12 months is cost containment, a new study shows. In its report of 3,500 employers, SaaS solutions provider Zywave revealed that 59 percent of respondents said they are very or somewhat concerned about their ability to contain costs this year. Employers are also concerned about increasing exposures, renewals and rising fraud behaviors.

Conducted from January 6 to February 24, Zywave’s Workers' Compensation Safety Survey studied 20 business sectors, with the heaviest representation coming from manufacturers (17 percent), health care and social assistance providers (15 percent), and construction (13 percent). Survey respondents included human resource personnel (36 percent), finance staff (19 percent), CEOs or presidents (16 percent), and other staff, including safety managers, risk managers and operations directors. Some 57 percent of those participating reported workers' compensation premiums under $50,000 annually.

Among the companies surveyed, 54 percent reported a payroll increase in the last year, while 21 percent reported a decrease and 24 percent said their payroll did not change. Almost half (48 percent) reported a premium increase in the past year, while 28 percent reported a decrease and 24 percent said their premiums stayed the same.

Other survey results include:

* Participants said the most effective measure they took to control workers' comp cost was having a safety-minded culture (65 percent).

* Of the 63 percent of employers who reported having a written safety manual, 48 percent indicated the manual had been reviewed within the past year.

* While 59 percent indicated that a light-duty or return to work program was an effective or highly effective method of controlling costs, only 45 percent of respondents reported having a written return to work policy.

* Other popular cost control measures were, in order of popularity, onsite accident evaluations, loss prevention evaluations, zero-accident goals, having a dedicated claims manager, safety committee efforts, and using a preferred occupational medicine facility.

* After cost containment, employers expressed notable concerns about increasing exposures (35 percent), renewals (35 percent), and rising fraud behaviors (31 percent). Market availability was a concern of 26 percent of respondents, and just over 20 percent were worried about carrier stability.

* Companies reported having a safety director (54 percent) more often than a risk manager (29 percent), although duties of these personnel may often be similar. In cases where a safety committee existed (48 percent), 81 percent indicated the committee was empowered to engage policies and corrective actions.

* Of companies who reported being experience rated, 88 percent either did not know the value of their loss-free rating or were not familiar with the term.

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