Katie Siegel

Katie Siegel is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

Reducing Claims Costs

Mental Health Support Could Cut Claims

Psychological services in the aftermath of a distressing event could prevent workers’ comp claims for post-event trauma.
By: | June 6, 2016 • 3 min read
Yellow crime scene cordon tape surrounds gas station after armed robbery attempt

The mention of “post-traumatic stress disorder” conjures the experiences of soldiers, first responders and others that encounter extreme danger and strife and suffer lingering psychological effects.

But employers in every field should be aware of the potential for mental health issues in the workplace after a traumatic event; and not necessarily a three-alarm fire or a shooting.

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“Unexpected employee death, armed robberies, downsizing, industrial accidents … these are all workplace incidents that can cause mental stress,” said Jeff Gorter, clinical director, EAP relations, for R3 Continuum, which provides workplace crisis readiness and response services.

One of those services is psychological first aid, or PFA, often contracted as part of employers’ Employee Assistance Programs.

In PFA, also called “disruptive event management,” qualified mental health professionals arrive on site immediately after an incident is reported, spending anywhere from two to six hours in one-on-one counseling with employees. They may extend those services an extra day, depending on the severity of the event, but usually one day suffices.

The key thing to understand about PFA, Gorter said, is that it is not therapy.

“We’re not coming in with our mobile couches asking them to tell us about their mothers,” he said.

“We’re just helping them to interpret their reactions, whether its distraction, anxiety, fear, sadness. We help them understand these are normal and temporary responses to this event,” he said.

“We’re teaching them basic coping skills.”

One of R3’s clients —a dollar store susceptible to robberies—decided to measure the impact of PFA on its workforce.

Getting Ahead of Mental Health Claims

Before the dollar store started to offer post-event counseling, about 50 percent of affected workers were likely to quit their jobs after a traumatic event. After implementing PFA, the store was able to retain about 90 percent of its employees that suffered such stress, Gorter said.

It also saw a 25 percent reduction in mental health workers’ comp claims stemming from an incident. Those that were filed were 15 percent less costly.

In addition to helping employees process challenging emotions, on-site counseling also reduces the likelihood of a mental health claim by removing the adversarial element between worker and employer.

If an employer pushes an employee to return to work quickly without offering any support for his or her mental well-being, that employee is more likely to feel mistreated and could file a workers’ comp claim as a sort of retaliatory measure, insisting that his employer pay attention.

“We want to take care of people, but also get them back to work sooner, reduce attrition, improve morale, and reduce the number and severity of workers’ comp claims related to mental or behavioral health issues.” — Jeff Gorter, clinical director, EAP relations, R3 Continuum

Studies also show that employees who don’t receive help after a jarring workplace incident are more likely to develop hypertension, coronary heart disease and metabolic syndrome, according to an article published by the American Psychological Association, “Work-Related Trauma, PTSD, and Workers Compensation Legislation: Implications for Practice and Policy.”

The article states that those conditions could lead to “significant increases in direct medical costs and indirect costs such as absenteeism, on-the-job injuries, and short- and long-term disability.

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated in 2008 that it costs employers 25 to 200 percent of an employee’s salary to train and replace a worker. As such, there are substantial costs to employers of untreated work-related mental health injuries,” the article read.

“We’re balancing both humanitarian and organizational goals,” Gorter said.

“We want to take care of people, but also get them back to work sooner, reduce attrition, improve morale, and reduce the number and severity of workers’ comp claims related to mental or behavioral health issues.”

Psychological first aid services were first developed by the National Center for PTSD as a response to major events like terrorism attacks and natural disasters, but they help employers in any industry retain workers and reduce workers’ comp costs after an unsettling event.

Katie Siegel is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]
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Risk Management

The Profession

GM’s Global Director of Risk and Insurance Alan Gier went from assembling cars to structuring insurance programs.
By: | May 24, 2016 • 4 min read
Topics: The Profession

R&I: What was your first job?

I had a paper route when I was 12 and many odd jobs in my teens. My first automotive industry job was building rear axles for G vans at a local GM assembly plant during summers in college.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

062016_ProfessionIt took 20 years. While negotiating contracts with our JV business partners, I interacted frequently with our corporate risk management team and became intrigued by how to quantify and mitigate our exposures. Additionally, I managed a host of operational and strategic issues which required scenario planning and analysis around the risk of taking one course of action versus another. That piqued my interest in risk management as a science and financial discipline.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

It’s focusing on analytics that drive better decision-making around program structuring. Risk managers are also being viewed as problem solvers and business facilitators, helping to drive their company’s strategic plan and overall business objectives.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Developing the next generation of risk managers by reaching out to college students via social media or college recruitment events.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

San Diego in any year. Great venue for the weather and access to the convention center and local eateries. Any place where you can walk to get around is better for meeting planning. Of course, there’s always Lyft!

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

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Significant ups and downs in the insurance markets as a result of 9/11, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and the “Great Recession.” Also underwriters becoming more focused on business and contingent business interruption exposures as they began to understand that their aggregate exposure could be much larger than expected.   Finally, the rise of the Chinese insurers as they expand their capacity, competitive pricing and influence.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?

Optimistic. The Internet of Things, the disruptive technology that we seem to see every day presents a lot of opportunity. However, I am concerned about the relative wage stagnation and whether others who are coming up now will enjoy the opportunities that I had.

One nephew thought I was a chef because I am forever cooking up something new after returning from a different part of the world.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Art Raschbaum, a former executive director of risk management at GM and now CEO of Maiden Re. Art taught me the importance of maintaining strong relationships with the markets and delivering value to the C-suite. Also Ron Judd, of GM and later Ally and AMTrust, who is a model of integrity and leadership.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Maintaining relationships with my family and friends despite years of travel and the demands that working at a global company involve.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

I read a lot so it is difficult to identify a favorite, but a few would include “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig, “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, and “Free to Choose” by Milton Friedman.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Fortunately I’ve had the opportunity to eat in many great restaurants across the globe. I remember certain dishes like mushrooms in butter foam in Paris, venison saddle or lamb curry in London, abalone and sashimi in Tokyo, a great steak in New York, and of course cheese anywhere in Europe.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

That one is easy … a very dry martini followed by a chewy Cab or silky Pinot Noir with dinner.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Tuscany, Italy. Beautiful scenery, friendly people, great food, luscious wine and fantastic winding roads that are a blast to drive.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Backpacking and alpine skiing throughout the U.S. and Canadian Rockies.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

The U.S. military and Homeland Security; they have kept us safe since 9/11 through tremendous sacrifice and vigilance.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

The people I meet, traveling to new places, and balancing the mix of marketing and finance that every risk manager must master.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

One nephew thought I was a chef because I am forever cooking up something new after returning from a different part of the world.  Another nephew is convinced I have a “government” job because I don’t say much and I go to exotic places … others just think I buy insurance.




Katie Siegel is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]
Share this article:

Risk Management

The Profession

GM’s Global Director of Risk and Insurance Alan Gier went from assembling cars to structuring insurance programs.
By: | May 24, 2016 • 4 min read
Topics: June 2016 Issue

R&I: What was your first job?

I had a paper route when I was 12 and many odd jobs in my teens. My first automotive industry job was building rear axles for G vans at a local GM assembly plant during summers in college.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

062016_ProfessionIt took 20 years. While negotiating contracts with our JV business partners, I interacted frequently with our corporate risk management team and became intrigued by how to quantify and mitigate our exposures. Additionally, I managed a host of operational and strategic issues which required scenario planning and analysis around the risk of taking one course of action versus another. That piqued my interest in risk management as a science and financial discipline.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

It’s focusing on analytics that drive better decision-making around program structuring. Risk managers are also being viewed as problem solvers and business facilitators, helping to drive their company’s strategic plan and overall business objectives.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Developing the next generation of risk managers by reaching out to college students via social media or college recruitment events.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

San Diego in any year. Great venue for the weather and access to the convention center and local eateries. Any place where you can walk to get around is better for meeting planning. Of course, there’s always Lyft!

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

Advertisement




Significant ups and downs in the insurance markets as a result of 9/11, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and the “Great Recession.” Also underwriters becoming more focused on business and contingent business interruption exposures as they began to understand that their aggregate exposure could be much larger than expected.   Finally, the rise of the Chinese insurers as they expand their capacity, competitive pricing and influence.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?

Optimistic. The Internet of Things, the disruptive technology that we seem to see every day presents a lot of opportunity. However, I am concerned about the relative wage stagnation and whether others who are coming up now will enjoy the opportunities that I had.

One nephew thought I was a chef because I am forever cooking up something new after returning from a different part of the world.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Art Raschbaum, a former executive director of risk management at GM and now CEO of Maiden Re. Art taught me the importance of maintaining strong relationships with the markets and delivering value to the C-suite. Also Ron Judd, of GM and later Ally and AMTrust, who is a model of integrity and leadership.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Maintaining relationships with my family and friends despite years of travel and the demands that working at a global company involve.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

I read a lot so it is difficult to identify a favorite, but a few would include “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig, “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, and “Free to Choose” by Milton Friedman.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Fortunately I’ve had the opportunity to eat in many great restaurants across the globe. I remember certain dishes like mushrooms in butter foam in Paris, venison saddle or lamb curry in London, abalone and sashimi in Tokyo, a great steak in New York, and of course cheese anywhere in Europe.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

That one is easy … a very dry martini followed by a chewy Cab or silky Pinot Noir with dinner.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Tuscany, Italy. Beautiful scenery, friendly people, great food, luscious wine and fantastic winding roads that are a blast to drive.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Backpacking and alpine skiing throughout the U.S. and Canadian Rockies.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

The U.S. military and Homeland Security; they have kept us safe since 9/11 through tremendous sacrifice and vigilance.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

The people I meet, traveling to new places, and balancing the mix of marketing and finance that every risk manager must master.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

One nephew thought I was a chef because I am forever cooking up something new after returning from a different part of the world.  Another nephew is convinced I have a “government” job because I don’t say much and I go to exotic places … others just think I buy insurance.




Katie Siegel is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]
Share this article: