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Tragic Events and the Role of Your Insurance Broker

Friday, October 4, 2019

A work-related death or serious injury of an employee creates shock waves throughout an organization. 

Several actions should happen within the first few hours and days of such events, but who provides step-by-step guidance to the employer? Insurance companies may send investigators to collect information, but it may take weeks, so who assists the organization with completing an investigation? Who assists the client in identifying third parties for immediate notification of the incident? Who assists the client to report and respond to a likely OSHA inspection? Who helps source grief counseling for impacted employees?

Organizations purchase insurance to protect against loss. Insurance brokers match the needs of the organization to the products offered by insurance carriers and facilitate the placement of policies that meet the financial needs of the organization. Insurance is acquired to protect against unexpected loss, but insurance companies provide little direct assistance to organizations struggling to respond to a major loss. 

Any death or serious injury involving employees or third parties is something many organizations would prefer not to think about, but navigating the process without a plan or assistance will cause greater stress, and increase the severity of financial and regulatory liability. Developing a formal response in advance of these events is wise, but many small and medium-sized organizations lack the expertise and resources to develop a comprehensive plan. 

Crippled with grief, employers often fail to take the actions necessary to respond to these events, and this creates additional financial and compliance liability. Employers also may not be prepared to address the grief of other employees affected by the death or serious injury. 

In addition to placing insurance coverage for organizations, some brokers may have the capability of assisting employers in responding to these tragic events. A brokers’ experienced safety and claims professionals can assist their clients with the following:

  • Complete the initial investigation
  • Guidance in notifying employee’s family and insurance carriers
  • Identify third parties that should be informed
  • Determine when and if OSHA must be notified
  • Advise on reaction to media inquiries
  • Source grief counseling for any affected employees
  • Respond and assist with likely OSHA inspections
  • Prepare thorough accident investigation and corrective action plan

Failure to address these critical actions promptly can result in increased financial and compliance liability, but most importantly, failing to address the emotional needs of employees may result in fear or depression from the catastrophic event(s).  Reimbursing the organization and affected employees for their loss is important, but the assistance provided during the moments immediately following catastrophic loss is critically important to organizations and their leaders. 

The Horton Group employs experienced safety and claims professionals capable of assisting clients with such catastrophic losses. The broker’s role should extend beyond the placement of insurance and include assistance when such horrific events occur. No one ever wants to consider the possibility, but when a catastrophe occurs, is your broker prepared to deliver the support you need?  If you would like to learn more about this topic to prepare your organization for a potential crisis, contact your Horton representative, or contact us at 708.845.3000, or via e-mail.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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