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Roberto Ceniceros

Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and co-chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at rceniceros@lrp.com. Read more of his columns and features.

2014 NWC&DC

Some Final Thoughts

By: | November 21, 2014 • 2 min read
Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and co-chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at rceniceros@lrp.com. Read more of his columns and features.
Topics: NWC&DC | Workers' Comp

The conference seats and stages will soon be empty. The expo booths are packed up and some attendees are already heading home.

But those of you fortunate to stay just a little bit longer will hear some thought-provoking presentations today on significant topics for anyone charged with managing claims or providing related services.

Like the conference sessions already presented over the past two days, they are the culmination of planning, decision-making, and preparation that started a year ago. The knowledge and expertise shared during those sessions began accumulating long before that, yet has been applied to address recent and emerging trends.

Similarly, planning for next year’s conference, to be held Nov. 11-13 here at Mandalay Bay, is already underway.

Requests for proposal information for anyone wanting to present in 2015 will be available very soon on the conference web site. You will want to get started on those soon, as the selection process really begins early in the year.

Don’t hesitate to call me if I can help with insight on what the selection group looks for when deciding which RFPs to pick.

Know that in our efforts to develop the best program content possible we value your input and give it careful review when deciding on topics, speakers and arrangements for next year.

You can also play a role and help us by filling out the conference evaluations. Look for those conference evaluations in emails sent to you. You can also find them on the NWC&DC 2014 Mobile App.

A big thank you to the many, many people who helped make this year’s event another success. That includes a thank you to all the speakers who spent so much time preparing to bring their best game to the show.

And thank you for attending the conference. We hope you enjoyed your time here and return home with new knowledge, strategies and inspiration to carry you through until next year when I’ll be looking forward to seeing you again.

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2014 NWC&DC

Welcome!

By: | November 19, 2014 • 2 min read
Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and co-chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at rceniceros@lrp.com. Read more of his columns and features.

Welcome to Las Vegas and the 23rd Annual Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo!

It’s an honor to welcome you to an event that so many industry colleagues diligently worked on during the past year to deliver high-quality educational presentations, lively evening gatherings, and opportunities to network.

Starting today, attendees will have the opportunity to meet and hear from more of the workers’ comp industry’s top decision-makers than is possible at any other single event.

With an abundance of risk managers and employer workers’ comp managers speaking, attendees will also get to learn from peers who share similar challenges, whether they are recurring or just emerging.

With an abundance of risk managers and employer workers’ comp managers speaking, attendees will also get to learn from peers who share similar challenges, whether they are recurring or just emerging.

The conference kicks off today with a timely keynote presentation from Dr. L. Casey Chosewood, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Office for Total Worker Health.

He will speak about integrating occupational safety with health promotion strategies to mitigate worker injury and illness. Integrating across corporate silos to improve employee health and mitigate injuries, whether they occur on or off the job, is an important trend I see more employers engaged in.

You’ll also have many opportunities to hear employers share their specific experiences and practices on a wide variety of workers’ compensation and disability issues.

This afternoon, for example, speakers from the Harley Davidson Motor Co. — one of four 2014 Teddy Award winners — will share some of their effective efforts.

Many sessions will also offer a broader view of industry trends, challenges and opportunities.

But speaker presentations are only one part of the show. There are also more than 275 exhibitors to visit and cocktail events for relaxing after a day of sessions and meetings.

As conference co-chair, I want to express my hope that you take advantage of all the opportunities NWCDC provides and that you find your time in Las Vegas provides valuable information and fun experiences.

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Column: Workers' Comp

The Outlook for Alternatives

By: | November 3, 2014 • 3 min read
Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and co-chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at rceniceros@lrp.com. Read more of his columns and features.

“Disruptive innovation” may be unfolding in workers’ comp as some large employers and service providers push for more states to allow opting-out of traditional mandates for addressing worker injuries. Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor and disruptive-innovation expert, writes and talks about forces that positively transform markets, industries or products. The innovations typically simplify purchasing or reduce costs.

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Examples of disruptive innovation that Christensen has cited include the rise of retailers like Wal-Mart. It transformed from its original five-and-dime store roots by expanding its product line to more profitable items such as clothing.

The innovation disrupted, or shifted, the way many people now buy garments. As a result, far fewer traditional department stores exist across the country today.
Now Wal-Mart and other retailers are backing an organization called the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation. ARAWC will lobby states to allow employers to adopt alternative options for delivering medical and wage replacement benefits to injured workers.

There are two existing models ARAWC can point to in its lobbying efforts. One exists in Texas, which has allowed employers to entirely opt out of its workers’ comp system since that system was created.

The other is Oklahoma, which only last year enacted a law allowing employers to adopt an alternative to the state’s traditional benefits delivery system, but only if they provide equivalent benefits.

ARAWC’s executive director, Richard Evans, expects other states will adopt an approach similar to Oklahoma’s rather than follow Texas. I can see how that would be an easier sell to lawmakers than a Texas-type option that allows employers greater freedom, but in turn allows injured employees to sue their employers.

Oklahoma remains experimental, in my mind, however. In late September, the Oklahoma Insurance Department said that only nine employers had qualified to provide an alternative “Oklahoma Option.” What their experience will be remains to be seen.

Bill Minick, president of Dallas-based consulting firm PartnerSource and a major proponent of alternative options, disagrees with my description of Oklahoma’s alternative as “experimental.”

Minick says employers have seen positive results in both Oklahoma and Texas despite significant differences between the alternative models in each state.

Yet I still have several questions that will only be answered with time.

For instance, now that workers’ comp rates appear to be falling in Oklahoma and dropping across other states, will more employers disrupt their current arrangements to adopt an alternative option? Or, as often happens when insurance pricing drops, will many employers remain content with the status quo?
ARAWC says its goals are long term. So perhaps current insurance pricing won’t matter. But ARAWC’s success does remain to be seen.

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That is why I say disruptive innovation may be unfolding. While I think ARAWC’s effort may help drive changes in workers’ comp arrangements across more states, it’s not certain yet, but that’s how disruptive innovation often occurs.

The theory’s observers say disruptive innovation often begins in niche areas and can appear unattractive or even inconsequential before driving major changes.

It doesn’t happen overnight.

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