PMA Companies launched this series in order to provide straightforward information about the implications of COVID-19 and how PMA Companies is responding. Each installment will feature a PMA Executive or Thought Leader responding to three or four questions posed by our moderator, Derek Hopper, Senior Vice President, Shared Services. The objective is to get to the point quickly without a lot of fluff. We hope this will lead you to have a more robust conversation with your PMA Representative.
This installment features Ray DiCello, Senior Vice President of Claims & Chief Claims Officer, PMA Insurance Group, and Jim Walsh, Senior Vice President of Claims, PMA Management Corp. The topic is COVID-19 and workers’ compensation claims management.
Derek Hopper (DH): How has COVID-19 impacted workers’ compensation claims management?
Jim Walsh (JW): COVID-19 has impacted workers’ compensation claims management in a number of ways. It has reduced the availability of return-to-work opportunities as a result of employers contracting their operations, diminished access to medical care for non-essential treatment, and caused a backlog of legal proceedings due to the suspension of court activities.
Ray DiCello (RD): The medical side of claims management has been particularly affected. Injured workers were reluctant to seek treatment from medical providers and put elective procedures on hold, which has led to extended return-to-work dates. On the other hand, the increased use of telemedicine in workers’ compensation has been encouraging.
DH: What advice would you give brokers and employers, specific to claims management?
JW: Report claims as promptly as possible so that the information necessary to make decisions can be obtained within jurisdictional requirements. Additionally, establish clear communication protocols with your carrier or TPA. Because the environment is evolving quickly, accurate and timely information exchange and collaboration are necessary in order to make the best decisions.
RD: Establish open lines of communication with injured workers. Maintain consistent contact throughout their recovery process so they don’t feel disconnected. Communication will help to minimize an injured worker’s anxiety and facilitate recovery and return to work.
DH: How important is it to maintain a broader perspective?
RD: It’s important to stay on top of what is happening locally. Communities are in various stages of the COVID outbreak. You need to assess each area in which you have operations in terms of local infection rates, availability of PPE, COVID testing resources, etc. This will enable you to better serve employees coming into the workplace.
JW: COVID-19 is an evolving situation with new information becoming available daily. To the best of your ability, ensure the accuracy of the information you are using to make decisions by fact-checking with credible and respected sources.
DH: Ray, Jim, what are your last words on this topic?
RD: This is a challenging situation and PMA Companies is focused on supporting injured workers throughout their recovery and return-to-work process. We are very impressed with how our staff has responded throughout the pandemic. They are rising to the challenge and executing strongly to meet the needs of our brokers, clients, and injured workers.
JW: Things are changing every day, and we are continually monitoring new developments and adjusting our procedures and processes. And this situation has reinforced what I have always known - PMA employees are the best in the business.
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