icare announces selection of claims service providers for the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme

icare today announced a significant milestone in its program to improve NSW workers compensation with the selection of six Claims and Injury Management Service Providers to manage claims within the NSW Nominal Insurer Scheme.

Following a comprehensive tender process, icare has selected Allianz, DXC, Employers Mutual Limited (EML), Gallagher Bassett (GB), GIO and QBE to manage workers compensation claims for the NSW Nominal Insurer.

Today’s announcement is part of an extensive improvement program underway at icare to improve outcomes for injured workers and businesses.

It builds on actions that have already occurred including recruitment of more case managers to improve support for injured workers, piloting a ‘first response’ service for small to medium employers that support early return to work planning, and launching of a Professional Standards Framework that provides case managers with learning and career pathways to further strengthen industry-wide capability, expertise and capacity.

NSW Minister for Finance and Employee Relations, Damien Tudehope said the changes are designed to lift competition between providers to drive improved performance, leading to better care for injured workers.

“Appointing this mix of quality claims service providers builds new capability and capacity in the system and is a key step towards providing a more targeted response to the growing number of psychological claims.”

Acknowledging the significant rise in psychological claims, icare is exploring the future appointment of a dedicated psychological claims provider to deliver innovative and targeted psychological claims services. At the same time, icare is establishing an internal team that will develop and trial new approaches to psychological claims that can then be rolled out to all claim service providers.

icare CEO and Managing Director Richard Harding said improving outcomes for people with psychological injuries was contingent on understanding the vastly different challenges they face.

“Research shows one in five Australians experience mental-ill health in any given year. Considering mental health issues are now the most common diagnosed long-term health condition in Australia, and are a growing proportion of workplace injuries, it’s essential we respond with specialist care to ensure these workers get back to health and work as quickly as possible.

“Four of the six claims providers will provide specialist psychological claims capability with skilled and experienced case managers dedicated to managing psychological claims. We’ll also bolster our approach to psychological claims management with an internal team dedicated to improving psychological claims outcomes and potential additional appointments to our claims provider panel in the future.

“These changes will enable icare to drive better outcomes as icare will be publishing performance results, which will drive competition and make it easier for businesses to choose the claims providers who can give their injured workers the best care and support to help them return to health and work.”

Stakeholder consultation on the new claims model began in 2021. The engagement included a Market Study on potential service providers, a survey on the NSW Government Have Your Say website, and interviews and focus groups, with valuable input from injured workers, businesses, unions, industry groups, service providers and the community.

Subject to contract execution, the changes will be progressively implemented from early 2023, with more details to be provided over coming months.

Contracts with current Claims Service Providers Allianz, EML, GIO and QBE will end on 31 December 2022 and the new contracts will commence on 1 January 2023. The new contracts will be for up to 10 years, subject to provider performance. Further providers may be brought on to the panel at a future date.

Considering feedback from a range of stakeholders and lessons from past experience, iCare have confirmed that the changes will be rolled out in a staged approach over the next two years to minimise impact on injured workers and employers.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on (02) 9587 3500 or themteam@wsib.com.au should you have any questions at all on how the change might affect you, otherwise we will be in touch with you regarding this in due course.

Is your home or building ready for a third consecutive La Nina?

The third consecutive La Nina is well and truly upon us which begs the question, is your home or building ready?

While there isn’t much we can do to change the weather, there are several strategies we can recommend in order to help mitigate your risk this wet season:

  • Check your gutters and clear them of debris.
  • Check your property to ensure it’s in good condition/repair to with stand heavy rain and storms.
  • Consider any equipment, machinery and vehicles that are kept outside or exposed to the elements.
  • Inspect your surroundings, for example: trees and shrubs, and assess them for potential to cause damage. Consider engaging a professional to help with this assessment. 
  • Consider moving low lying stock & contents to higher positions to mitigate damage if there were water ingress.
  • When leaving a property check that all of your windows, doors and openings are closed and secured.

In addition to that listed above, we would like to draw particular attention to the topic of updated Valuations. With the sharp increase in building costs, along with inflation pressures, as well as labour and material shortages, the replacement value of your assets has likely increased. Therefore we would recommend having an independent valuation carried out to avoid underinsurance and ensure you are adequately covered.

If you would like to talk through the particulars of your policy, or if you would like us to arrange a quote to have a formal valuation conducted, please contact your WSIB Account Manager. Alternatively, you can call our office on (02) 9587 3500 or email theteam@wsib.com.au.

WorkSafe Inspectorate activity increasing through Predictive Modelling

WorkSafe Inspectorate activity increasing through Predictive Modelling

The New South Wales Insurance Regulator – the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) – recently ramped up the size of its Safety Inspectorate team as part of the NSW Government’s focus to prevent accidents from happening in the workplace. In mid-2021; a further 40 inspectors were added to the 330+ team boosting the ratio of inspectors to workers to one in every 10,000. More recently, SIRA have implemented systems whose predictive modelling capabilities will drive more targeted workplace safety inspections across the state.

Return to work rates are at “historic lows”, with SIRA claiming return to work within the first 13 weeks from date of injury dropping from nine (9) in every ten (10) workers in 2015, to less than eight (8) in every ten (10) as it currently stands. With economic loss being the key driver in workers compensation premiums, the risk becomes magnified insofar as poorer financial outcomes for employers coupled with increased Safety Inspectorate attention; and while the work undertaken by the inspectorate has its value and is necessary in today’s market, the time investment for key stakeholders within a business or organisation can be taken away from driving return to work itself.

In SIRA’s website article released on the 11th August 2022, it states; “Risk factors used in the modelling include the inexperience of the employer, any recent spike in claims (frequency), and delays in reporting. Factors relating to the worker include the nature, type and location of the workers injury and events such as surgery in the first month of a claim… SIRA is supporting and educating the identified employers through a mix of engagements, including inspector visits to the workplace, phone calls, virtual meetings and regular correspondence”. The article goes on to state the inspectors, who are presently required to undertake 30 inspections a month, will see their inspection rate increase to 80 inspections a month from September 2022.

The announcement of SIRA’s intent to utilise predictive modelling to increase safety inspections is another move to push for increased early intervention strategies in the workplace. Standard of Practice 34 commenced in April 2022 whose very foundation was built around positive influence on management of the first four (4) weeks of a workers compensation claim. Standard of Practice 34 sets out seven (7) expectations of an insurer and employer to provide early supportive contact, provide education and identify barriers, and matching action items to identified risks to promote a safe and durable return to work post-injury.

The Workers Compensation division here at Warren Saunders Insurance Brokers are well across the detail and have first-hand seen these trends unfold, not only in NSW but nationally as well. Our team are on hand to provide advice on how employers can drive better return to work outcomes through tailored strategic advice and leverage our relationships with insurers / scheme agents and suppliers. Contact our team today on (02) 9587 3500 or on theteam@wsib.com.au for more information.