Loss Control in Mining: What Sets Rockwood Apart?

Loss Control Guidance and Claims Service: What Sets Rockwood Apart?

A leading underwriter of workers’ compensation insurance for the mining industry.

Group of workers in a foundry at the melting furnace - production of steel castings in an industrial company

It has never been more important for employers to make sure that they have strict risk assessment and accident prevention measures in place to protect their employees: to make sure they return home safely each day and to ensure they receive excellent medical care if they need it. Workers’ compensation insurance is one of the weapons in the armory of companies to help them stay in business, but there are a lot of different options available to employers.

Loss control in mining and claims at Rockwood

Rockwood offers workers’ compensation insurance with a commitment to providing the best service on loss control and claims, collaborating across all departments with this common goal.

Ron Davidson, SVP & Chief Underwriting Officer at Rockwood explains: “What makes us stand out is that we engage at an intimate level with our policyholders on underwriting, claims and loss control in mining. Because we’re passionate about this, we keep loss prevention and loss control in-house and these areas account for more than 10% of our total staff. Not only is loss prevention and control inherent to our underwriting process, but we also understand the significant value it has for clients.”

The bottom line

There are two main reasons why Rockwood sees it as important to keep a razor-sharp focus on loss prevention – financial and personal. The costs for this statutorily required insurance can be near the top of a company’s list of expenses, and work injuries can have a big impact on the profitability of a business.

“Not only is loss prevention and control inherent to our underwriting process, but we also understand the significant value it has for clients.”

— Ron Davidson, SVP & Chief Underwriting Officer

The indirect costs of lost productivity are also significant – covering for an injured worker, possibly hiring a replacement, dealing with possible regulatory compliance issues stemming from the injury and so on.

Davidson adds: “Finding good employees is tough, so if one good employee gets injured and is out long term, it can be incredibly damaging and frustrating. Our view is, why would a business not want to have the absolute best loss prevention measures in place to ensure these issues don’t occur?”

Changing culture to produce results

Safety, claims and loss prevention are all a fundamental part of a company’s culture. Working practices and habits may have evolved over years, and an insurer cannot simply write a list of recommendations, set a deadline and expect change. To address these problems, Rockwood engaged with their policyholders to explain why change would be beneficial to them.

“When businesses are having loss issues, we set up mutual goals, and when they reach those, it’s important to celebrate that.”

— Danny Weimer, Director of Loss Control

Even companies with experience modifier scores of over four, meaning that they’re paying 400% more in premiums than the average business, can change if they are willing to. To achieve this, it’s vital to start education across all levels of staff about what workers’ compensation is and how losses can impact their business by directly hitting their bottom line as well as affecting their personal safety.

Denny Weimer, Director of Loss Control at Rockwood, explains: “We might illustrate this with the example of a gold mining client where a team member tears a rotator cuff: Not only has one of their colleagues suffered a preventable injury, but they’ve also just mined a substantial amount of gold effectively ‘for free’ because of the costs that will incur. We would follow this up by talking to employees on the floor about both the financial and the human aspect. This is imperative so that everyone can work together.”

What should then follow at any company is a thorough inspection to identify hazards and to begin the process of preventing accidents. Rockwood can take advantage of their small teams to get really involved, but it is important to do this work with the policyholder so that they feel they have ownership of the process. Sometimes four or five different solutions to a particular risk may be considered to overcome the fact that the obvious route may be seen as very costly (although necessary) or face resistance from employees who have become used to previous procedures.

Weimer points out: “We’re making an investment in our policyholders because it’s good for both sides. When businesses are having loss issues, we set up mutual goals, and when they reach those, it’s important to celebrate that. Employees need to embrace change and make it happen, so then it is also vital to engage them in the recognition and acknowledge their efforts.”

Claims and the personal touch

No matter how hard policyholders and insurers work together, accidents do happen. That is when it’s critical to have a claims service that is based on rapid response and communication. While there is some cynicism among the public about insurers paying claims, it’s important to remember that 95% of claims are legitimate and that when people are injured and have a valid insurance policy, they should get the best care available.

“Our team takes our work personally – we don’t want to let people down. Even if our policyholder doesn’t completely agree … they are working through the process with us.”

— Rick Tipton, Vice President of Claims

Rockwood sees claims as absolutely core to what they do. A vital part of their approach is handling the claims themselves in-house and prioritizing communication throughout the process.

Rick Tipton, Vice President of Claims, says: “Our teams go out to meet the policyholders across the country and form relationships and friendships, which brings in accountability and responsibility. Our team takes our work personally – we don’t want to let people down. In addition, we are communicating throughout the process, so that even if our policyholder doesn’t completely agree with our decision, they are working through the process with us, giving them knowledge, which is empowering and satisfying for them.”

Preparation should also be a key focus point for insurers. Having set up a high-quality medical program that goes out in advance to find the best and most appropriate specialists, Rockwood works with those medical experts to help them fully comprehend and appreciate the issues their patients face – even occasionally taking them underground for a mining experience.

Tipton adds: “It comes back to our belief that if we offer our clients the correct care right away, they will heal better and quicker, they will be back at work faster and they will feel supported and protected. This all feeds into supporting the positive and collaborative culture that we hope to create across workforces.”

Change and COVID-19

The past year has been tough for many. Companies like Rockwood haven’t been able to make as many of their usual site visits and have found it more difficult to build up those relationships that can be invaluable in building a culture of loss control in mining and risk mitigation. However, it has enabled them to adapt and adopt other technological measures that they will use in the future combined with the personal relationships that are the bedrock of how they work.

Rockwood, for example, has been delighted with the excellent response to their new online training hub. It consists of a huge library of training materials, such as instruction videos, tests and so on that policyholders can access virtually. “We like to call it the ‘Netflix of safety videos.’ We will keep updating offerings like these to make sure we continue to offer the very best service to all our policyholders and producers,” comments Davidson. “Any measure that we can take to help workers get home safely and keep their businesses profitable is an important one.”

Learn more about Rockwood.

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