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Thursday 25 February 2021
The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across the UK may be bringing infection rates down right now, but businesses will continue to feel ripple effects from the virus in the months ahead.
UK employers face a 40% rise in litigation this year due to claims related to COVID-19, according to a December survey of 200 claims-management companies, 1,000 senior business decision-makers and 2,000 workers in the UK.
The research conducted by 3Gem on behalf of the broker Gallagher, found that several factors are influencing the spike, including allegations of workplace safety violations and employer negligence during the pandemic.
Considering the sudden adaptations employers had to make early in the pandemic, that makes sense. As COVID-19 began its spread, many employers had to source new equipment and adapt policies to protect employee safety – and they had to do so practically overnight. While some were more prepared for pandemic-related disruptions than others, few would say they sailed through the past year smoothly. Claims are reflecting the strains.
The good news is that as we emerge from the pandemic, employers can fortify their organisations with protection that helps them minimise the risks that can lead to liability claims in the future. A big part of that is being proactive – intervening as soon as possible after an employee is injured.
At Travelers, we’ve addressed this by expanding our employers’ liability cover with a benefit called proactive rehabilitation support. It’s designed to help an injured employee recover more quickly, reduce the amount of time the person needs to be away from work, and minimise the need for an employer to engage temporary staff to cover for the absent employee.
On its own, employers’ liability cover supports the recovery of an employee injured at work once a formal claim has been submitted and after the insurer has accepted liability. But if a formal claim is not submitted promptly, it could be months before any support is provided to help the employee recover.
Employers’ liability proactive rehabilitation support provides rehabilitation support to the injured employee at the earliest stage of medical intervention – before a formal claim is made or liability is accepted by the insurer. Support to aid the recovery of an employee injured at work can be given within days. An experienced in-house nurse manages the rehabilitation and oversees the cases until the injured employee has made a successful return to work.
Here’s a case study of how this works in practice: A 25-year-old employee working in the care sector was attacked by a service user. She suffered a concussion, along with soft-tissue and bite injuries to her arms and associated psychological symptoms from the attack. She went to A&E after the incident and then to her local GP in the days following. She was initially signed off from work for two weeks.
Her employer reported the incident to Travelers and provided consent for us to contact the employee. Within 24 hours, our in-house nurse made direct contact with the employee to assess her injuries and offer initial advice to treat her symptoms. The nurse worked with the employee to arrange immediate private treatment when she experienced delays in obtaining the treatment required via her GP. The employee then received a private diagnostic assessment within ten days of the incident. She returned to work and successfully resumed her pre-accident duties.
Early action like this is more likely to result in a quicker recovery. There are significant additional benefits too. It may reduce the possibility of formal claims, reduce claim numbers and therefore lower the cost of employers’ liability insurance, and demonstrate the kind of employer support that elevates employee satisfaction.
Proof of the benefits of early invention is in the outcomes. The employee in the case study returned to work after one month and felt valued because of the support she had received from her employer. Had a claim been submitted instead, the same injury might have kept the employee out of work for up to three months – far more disruptive amount for both employer and employee.
Jane Glyn, ACII (firstname.lastname@example.org), is Public Sector Practice Leader for Travelers Europe. She has spent nearly three decades underwriting for the public sector.