More Support for TRIA Extension
A pair of new reports is adding to the momentum urging Congress to extend the federal government’s terrorism backstop program. The Democratic Governors’ Association and a report by RAND both talk of chilling ramifications should the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act be allowed to expire at the end of the year.
While insurance industry representatives have been speaking to members of Congress lately, they are now being joined by other facets of the economy. Insurers, especially those in workers’ comp, are hoping Congress will act soon and extend the program.
“Workers compensation is a unique line of insurance,” said the DGA’s report, Why Reauthorizing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act is Important for States. “If TRIA expires, it would expose state workers’ compensation insurance markets to unlimited terrorism-related claims if a terrorist event occurs, which could result in unprecedented losses and destabilize the markets.”
The report went on to quote NCCI as saying the absence of TRIA would result in increased costs and severely constrained coverage, and create difficulties for employers in meeting state regulatory requirements, possibly leading to layoffs of workers.
“By having a plan in place that covers and adjusts claims arising from a terrorist attack, the federal government creates a level of certainty that better serves taxpayers and policyholders impacted by terrorism,” the report concluded. “The private market isn’t capable of providing terrorism coverage without a federal backstop at a level that businesses need, and lack of coverage availability could result in dire consequences for the economy at a time when it’s just starting to bounce back.”
Potential national security implications are the focus of the RAND study. National Security Perspectives on Terrorism Risk Insurance in the United States was funded by insurance and business organizations.
“Examining the history of terrorism in the United States since the passage of TRIA and reviewing counterterrorism studies, the authors find that terrorism remains a real national security threat, but one that is very difficult for insurers to model the risk of,” said a statement accompanying the report. “They also find that terrorism risk insurance can contribute to making communities more resilient to terrorism events, so, to the extent that terrorism insurance is more available with TRIA than without it, renewing the legislation would contribute to improved national security.”
Reform Impacts ASC Costs
California’s efforts to reduce costs in its workers’ comp program have apparently been successful in at least one area. Average facility fee payments to ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) have declined 26 percent per episode and 28 per procedure — more than researchers had projected.
S.B. 863 included provisions to reduce the maximum facility fees for services performed in ASCs from a maximum of 120 percent of the Medicare fee to 80 percent. Analysts had predicted the change would reduce ASC payments by 25 percent.
“Thus far, the change in the ASC fee schedule has achieved its intended objective of reducing one aspect of workers’ compensation medical costs,” according to a new study. “Moreover, the study found no evidence of changes which would potentially undermine the fee schedule savings.”
The study included two independent sets of data from the California Workers’ Compensation Institute and the California Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau. The authors measured average amounts billed and paid for workers’ comp outpatient surgery services rendered in the year before adoption of the revised fee schedule and the first six months after.
The researchers looked for:
- Fees billed
- Fee schedule adjustments
- Network discounts
- Payment per episode
- Mix of services
- Service intensity
- Sites of service
The savings came despite an increase in the average amount billed per ASC procedure — $3,183 to $3,386, a 6.4 percent increase. However, when the conversion factor multiplier from 1.20 to 0.80 was applied, the average ASC fee schedule allowed declined by nearly 31 percent from $977 to $674. The result was a wider spread between the billed and scheduled amounts for ASC services from $2,206 in 2012 to $2,711 in 2013.
The authors also looked at per episode costs. Episodes of care were defined as all procedures and ancillary services on a specific claim, specific bill, and a specific date of service. For example, an arthroscopy episode could include data for both the arthroscopic procedure as well as a debridement procedure, or removal of tissue from the surgical area, that was performed on the same date and included in the same bill.
“The average amount paid for ASC services per episode declined 26 percent from $3,291 to $2,443 following the adoption of the fee schedule changes in January 2013,” the report said.
The mix of services changed little after the fee schedule change. The researchers found only minor shifts in the distributions of outpatient procedures, indicating the fee schedule changes had little effect on the types of ASC procedures performed.
Passionate About Technology
If you overheard the passion and enthusiasm that Brit Waters uses to describe his most important business technology, you would immediately assume it was the latest smartphone or tablet. But it’s not Apple or Google that generates so much enthusiasm, it’s the Riskonnect risk management platform.
“Riskonnect revolutionized how our department does business. This system changed the way we gather, analyze and communicate information. It’s made us more efficient, effective and reliable,” said Waters, Manager, Risk Management at Avery Dennison Corporation. “These are not bandages, but complete solutions.”
Avery Dennison is a multinational company offering labeling and packaging materials and solutions whose applications and technologies are an integral part of products used in every major market and industry. The company operates in more than 50 countries with over 26,000 employees and $6 billion in revenues in 2013.
“Riskonnect revolutionized how our department does business. This system changed the way we gather, analyze and communicate information. It’s made us more efficient, effective and reliable. These are not bandages, but complete solutions.”
– Brit Waters, Manager, Risk Management, Avery Dennison Corporation
The company partnered with Riskonnect, the provider of premier, enterprise-class technology platforms. In just 18 months, the system not only revolutionized the department but also delivered wide-ranging value for plenty of other parts of the organization. Those departments utilize the system to manage financial assets, keep track of vehicles and will soon oversee facilities requests.
‘The Simplicity is Unreal’
For global property insurance renewals, Riskonnect changed the way Avery Dennison collects data on its 300 manufacturing facilities, warehouses and other properties around the world. Gone are the days of sorting through hundreds of separate emails with information about the properties and merging hundreds of separate spreadsheets into one.
Not only was the old process cumbersome, it left lots of room for error.
With Riskonnect, the process is automated. It sends emails to the more than 100 individual contacts and the users insert the information into the Riskonnect portal themselves — something that makes Waters’ life a whole lot easier.
“I hit a button once and it runs the report for me. The simplicity is unreal,” he said. “Plus, it gives us better information that we can communicate to our insurance carriers, and gives them increased confidence about the risks they’re insuring.”
Waters said it’s a big time-saver. “Before, the process could take up to three months, and now we get it done in less than a month.”
One thing he’s particularly excited about is the configurability of the portal. If he wants to customize it, he can easily do so without going through a computer programmer or contacting an account executive.
“It gives you the power to set up the system as you need it, not as someone else envisions you need it,” said Waters.
The Riskonnect portal is also the primary source for reporting workers’ compensation claims. Again, the Riskonnect system simplified the process. Before, employees had to call a 1-800 number or fill out a long form and fax it to the Third Party Claims Administrator (TPA). Now they just log on and use the claims reporting portal, which is equipped with drop-down menus and other efficiencies that help expedite the process.
“We take the guessing game out of their hands,” said Waters. “In a matter of minutes, they get a confirmation email that the claim has been submitted to the TPA.”
Through the Riskonnect dashboard tools, Waters and his department can learn a lot about trends in workers’ comp claims. The system tracks claims year-to-date, costs, causes of injury and even the top body parts that are hurt. Then risk management communicates that information to local managers to make sure that safety-and-prevention programs are appropriate and will help reduce the amount of claims and their costs.
“The Riskonnect dashboards layout all this valuable information in easy-to-use tables and charts, making it simple for us to study the data and implement necessary safety changes,” said Waters.
ROI on a Values Collection Module
At the start of the process, Waters never imagined just how many other departments would use the tool. The finance department uses the system for asset management. The fleet administrator uses it to have drivers sign off on its manuals. Even the facilities department is jumping on board, using the Riskonnect system to identify when properties need repairs to big-ticket items like roofs or windows.
The company is also looking to report global property claims, transit claims and employers’ liability claims through the platform. It’s even evaluating if it can use it on the shop floor with health-and-safety team members having easy access to the system via iPads.
”The Riskonnect platform can help many different departments with a wide variety of tasks,” said Waters. “It’s really making risk management a much more strategic contributor to the company.”
“I hit a button once and it runs the report for me. The simplicity is unreal,” Waters said. “Plus, it gives us better information that we can communicate to our insurance carriers, and gives them increased confidence about the risks they’re insuring. Before, the process could take up to three months, and now we get it done in less than a month.”
Waters’ enthusiasm for the product is clear, but he’s not alone. End-users are raving about how easy, intuitive and customizable it is. For example, training end-users used to consist of holding approximately 15 different webinars to walk everyone through the process. Now, it’s accomplished in one easy-to-understand mass communication through the Riskonnect portal.
The end users even helped Waters and the Avery Dennison team add efficiencies that improve the entire process. On the property reporting side, they suggested adding an attachment tool for adding spreadsheets – so the information is easy to find the following year.
“It’s amazing when you give the end users a product and you see how they come back to you with advice that you never even thought of,” said Waters. “That speaks volumes for the system.”
In just 18 months, Riskonnect changed the way Avery Dennison does business — something Waters can’t hide his enthusiasm about.
“I don’t consider them just a vendor,” said Waters. “I consider them a long-term strategic partner.”