Workers’ Compensation Trends in 2021

Business by  Ariana Smith 23 April 2021

Compensation Trends

Over the last year, many businesses have had to adapt and change the way they operate. Whether you’re a new business owner or an experienced owner and operator, it’s critical to keep track of the current state of affairs and know the business world is changing around you.

While the need for insurance hasn’t changed, many details have—particularly those around workers’ comp laws. The pandemic and its unexpected consequences have significantly impacted the kinds of claims workers file and treatments available.

The Rise of Telemedicine

Remote work has revolutionized many businesses, allowing them to conduct business with limited or no in-person operations. That includes medical offices, which have been able to switch to remote visits for many routine matters. The year 2020 saw an increase of over 4,300% in telemedicine visits.

Insurance companies weren’t always as quick to catch on, but many are starting to cover telemedicine, either temporarily or more permanently. Before approving a telemedicine visit for any workers’ compensation-related matters, make sure you know your insurance company’s policy. If your insurer does not pay for telemedicine, consider finding an option that is more in line with today’s needs.

More Mental Health Claims

2020 wasn’t so much a year as a collection of stressors combined to form a calendar. The pandemic, the switch to remote work and schooling, and other serious issues combined to create a challenging environment for almost everyone. So, it’s not a surprise that there was a significant increase in mental health issues, which can be expected to create an increase in mental health-related workers’ compensation claims.

But filing mental health claims with workers’ compensation can be tricky. Different states have different requirements, and it can be hard to prove that a mental health condition was caused directly by work conditions. It’s often an up-in-the-air question whether they’ll be covered by insurance, and it may help to inquire about your insurance company’s current policy.

Changes Rooted In Working From Home

The switch to remote work often came quickly and without time to properly equip a home office, to say nothing of the challenges associated with shopping for office supplies (or anything else) in the spring of 2020. This led to an increase in preventable health conditions due to an improper work environment. These included carpal tunnel from increased typing and poor posture, and back or neck pain due to a desk or chair not suited to extended work.

These claims may be unavoidable due to the chaotic nature of 2020, but your company can get ahead of some of these issues now and make changes that will benefit your employee’s health. Many companies have transitioned some employees to flexible hybrid schedules. Offering remote employees stipends for equipment or complimentary office supplies may also be good for both health and morale.

Continued Legalization of Marijuana

While the laws regarding the medical and recreational use of marijuana continue to be in flux and vary from state to state, there’s no question that the trend is towards legalization. Many companies are updating their work policies to conform to local laws and account for the fact that their employees may be legally using marijuana for various purposes.

Make sure to check with your insurance to see if they cover prescriptions of marijuana-related substances for recovery from a work-related injury or any other purpose. Caution is required, especially if a company is based in multiple states with different laws or if your insurance company is based in a different state than your business operations.

State-by-State Changes

Insurance laws have always varied between states, so as a business owner, you need to keep track of all local changes. This is especially critical if you’re based in more than one state or if you’re a mail-order business that ships nationwide. Recent laws nationwide have changed requirements in many states.

Developments related to COVID-19 have also resulted in new insurance regulations and led to specific industries being considered higher-risk. While this won’t affect your business in some states, others may soon require separate certification for high-risk businesses. Make sure you know all current licensing and permit requirements.

Welcome To Workers’ Comp In 2021

Business owners and employees everywhere are looking forward to a year that provides a more hospitable climate for their industry. It’s important to understand the changes made and seize all opportunities to adjust before issues can arise. Your employees, and your bottom line, will thank you.

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Ariana Smith

Ariana Smith is a freelancer content writer and enthusiastic blogger. She is a regular contributor at The Daily Notes.

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