Friday, September 29, 2023

The Self Checkout Lane for Workers Comp Audits

 Today, I spent an hour or so helping a small business properly complete the self-audit forms their insurer had asked them to complete for Workers Comp and General Liability insurance. It wasn't particularly difficult but there were technical issues that were straightforward for someone trained in premium auditing but that were not so straightforward for a small business owner who didn't work in insurance.

We got the whole thing hashed out in a little over an hour and he was very grateful. But it put me in mind of something I heard a week or so ago, when I gave a presentation at the Midwest Insurance Auditors association. Some of the auditors present mentioned that their insurers are increasingly turning to remote audits or self-audits for smaller accounts.

The drawbacks of those developments are illustrated by my small business client I helped today--there are technical issues about what remuneration should properly be reported for WC, how that payroll properly gets allocated among classifications, and different technical aspects for the GL audit.

Insurance companies asking policyholders to self-audit reminds me of the increasing use of self-checkout lanes at Wal-Mart and other retailers. It's an aggravating action by large corporations to hold down their costs by asking the customer to do some of the work normally done by employees of said corporation.

Mind you, it's creating a new line of revenue for us, so perhaps I shouldn't complain about it. But it rubs me the wrong way. And when some aspect of the insurance industry rubs me the wrong way, I tend to write about it here.

So if your company gets one of these self-audit forms, or if the insurers says they want to do a remote audit (which can create similar but slightly different problems) keep in mind that Advanced Insurance Management can help, at very modest cost, to make sure you aren't inadvertently overcharged when you use the insurance industry's self-checkout lanes.

As I often like to say, in a perfect world I shouldn't be able to make a living doing what I do. Audits should always be done correctly and premiums should always be calculated correctly, by trained insurance professionals paid by the insurance industry.

Alas, we don't live in a perfect world. But at least we here at AIM can help make sure businesses aren't overcharged because of those imperfections.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

A Sweet Win at the Illinois Department of Insurance

 We just learned today we prevailed at a legal hearing at the Illinois Department of Insurance, on behalf of one of our consulting clients. This small biz client had been overcharged by Sentry Insurance, by way of using a wrong classification code (and thus wrong manual rate.) At the hearing, Sentry argued that, because this insured had accepted a proposal that used the wrong classification code, this meant that the clear policy provision that stated that Sentry would ultimately use the correct class for premiums, even if different from what was originally used, was null and void.

The hearing officer found this argument unpersuasive, it seems.
Kudos to my son and biz partner Scott Priz who ably handled this legal hearing. (It's nice to have a brilliant lawyer as part of our firm, one who also has twenty years' experience with the fine details of the classification system used for Workers Comp insurance. This wasn't a huge case in terms of our fee--but it was a huge win nonetheless, against an insurer who seemed determined to avoid returning significant premium overcharges to a small company.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

The Florida Nightmare for Employers and Workers Comp Premium Disputes

 A while ago, I wrote about how, in Florida, there apparently is case law that establishes that a Florida employer that has been sued by an insurer over unpaid Workers Compensation insurance premiums cannot, at trial, raise the issue that the insurer calculated those insurance premiums incorrectly, unless the employer disputed those premium charges, before litigation, through the administrative process in Florida.

I've had the dubious pleasure of trying to raise such an administrative complaint on behalf of a Florida employer and have found it to be an administrative nightmare right out of Kafka.

NCCI, the non-governmental insurance industry outfit that writes manuals of rules used by insurers, has said they cannot accept this particular dispute. So I turned to the Office of Insurance Regulation. They in turn said I had to go to the division of Consumer Services, who in turn referred this to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Workers Compensation--who in turn said they can't handle this, and said I should call OIR--the Office of Insurance Regulation--the people I had first filed this administrative complaint with, back in June.

So, Florida courts say that employers must go through the administrative process if they want to be able to later raise the issue of their insurance company screwing up the premium calculations, when that insurance company sues them. But that administrative process is not particularly well designed to actually let employers file such administrative complaints!

I'm recommending my Florida client reach out to his state representative to see if perhaps that can cut through this bureaucratic game of hot potato, but it's enough to make one suspect that perhaps the state of Florida just doesn't want employers to be able to dispute premium overcharges with insurance companies. 

Stay tuned for further developments.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

How Florida Screws Over Employers Who Have Been Overcharged for Workers Comp Insurance

 The state of Florida have a (to my knowledge) unique no-win scenario that handicaps Florida employers who have been overcharged on their Workers Compensation insurance. If the employer declines to pay a Workers Comp insurance bill because the employer feels it is excessive and incorrect, and the insurer files suit against the employer, existing case law in Florida mandates that the employer cannot raise the issue of the insurance company miscalculating the premiums---unless the employer had earlier attempted to dispute the overcharges by going through the Florida administrative appeal process.

Now, I'm not an attorney, so keep that in mind when I write about matters involving legal issues. But I often serve as an expert witness in litigation over Workers Compensation insurance premiums, so I have recently had the opportunity to witness a Florida court making exactly such a determination.

Every state has some kind of administrative appeal system for Workers Compensation insurance. Usually employers have an extremely limited awareness of the existence of such an appeal process. But in Florida, if the employer doesn't attempt to use that administrative appeal process BEFORE THE INSURANCE COMPANY FILES SUIT OVER THE PREMIUMS the employer cannot raise the issue of any errors by the insurance company in computing premiums, no matter how egregious and excessive those overcharges are.

In my own view, understandably, this is a disastrous situation for employers in Florida, as overcharges in Workers Compensation insurance premiums are far from uncommon. So these precedents in Florida case law essentially give insurance companies carte blanche to overcharge employers on Workers Comp insurance, as long as the insurer can get to the courthouse before the employer realizes there even exists an administrative appeal process.

My only advice for Florida employers is to be keenly aware of this situation and to be aware of the administrative appeal process. As Florida is an NCCI state, this means for most (but not all) disputes over Workers Compensation insurance premiums, the administrative appeal process would involve the Workers Compensation Appeal Board jointly administered by NCCI and the Florida insurance regulators. But NCCI appeal boards are limited in the kinds of technical issues they can hear. Typically, NCCI appeal boards can hear disputes over classifications, experience modification factors, payroll audits, and other NCCI manual rules. 

But for other issues that can sometimes arise over Workers Comp premiums, including application of state statutes, NCCI appeal boards cannot provide relief. Those would have to be filed with the Florida insurance regulators, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

And employers in Florida should make sure to reach out to those appeal mechanisms as soon as there is any dispute over Workers Comp premiums, lest their insurance company close the door on such administrative remedies by filing suit. Once suit is filed, administrative remedies cannot be sought and thus the employer is, to use a technical term, SOL.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Another Big Win For a California Client

 For this one, we were able to successfully dispute and get changed a Workers Comp classification code for a company in Hamilton Park, California. The State Compensation Insurance Fund had been seeking additional premium of around $400,000. By correcting the classification code, we reduced that bill to around $40,000. 

Errors in classification code application are one of the major sources of premium overcharges and AIM has been helping employers fix those errors since 1987. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Big Win For a California Client

 We've just received word that we have been successful in drastically reducing the Workers 
Comp audit bill for a California client. This small business specialized in providing life skills training for developmentally disabled adults, and they had been threatened with financial extinction by a bill for around $450,000.00 from the State Compensation Insurance Fund.

Our review found that this huge bill was based on using the wrong Workers Comp classification for this biz, and thus the wrong rate. And this wrong class was around ten times higher than the correct one.

We were able to get the correct lower rate approved for these folks and now the bill has been reduced to a much more manageable $44,000.00.

It's always gratifying when our efforts help save a small business from a ruinous bill, but it's especially so when the client is providing such an important and needed service.

On this case, my son and business partner Scott Priz handled the majority of the work, although I was involved, too, in some important aspects. So it was a team effort that helped produce this very happy ending for our client.

And just in time for the holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Successful Result for Georgia Small Contractor Regarding Workers Comp Audits

 I recently got word that we had made a huge difference for a small Georgia contractor. Based on our presentation to the Georgia Workers Compensation Appeal Board, the audited premium amounts claimed by Travelers insurance were drastically reduced. The appeal board agreed that the insurer had used incorrect classifications and rates and also had used incorrect payroll amounts, computing the $700,000 premium charges the Onwardsought.

The corrections should reduce the premiums by more than half, and help keep this Atlanta small business operational.

We love helping small businesses dispute improper and excessive Workers Compensation insurance bills, and Georgia of late has seen a number of such cases finding their way to us. Onward to the next one!