Opinion | Insurtech, Workers’ Compensation and the Human Element

By: | September 13, 2019

Nina Luckman is a business journalist based in New Orleans, focusing primarily on the workers' compensation industry. Her credentials include a B.A. and M.A. from Tulane University, both in the study of English Literature. Over the last several years, Nina has served as Editor of Louisiana Comp Blog, a news site she started in 2014 under the auspices of a group self-insurance fund. Louisiana Comp Blog won the WorkersCompensation.com Best Blogs award in 2016, 2017, and 2018. She can be reached at [email protected]

“Insurtech,” at first mostly a buzzword in the insurance industry, is now a multibillion-dollar segment of American innovation, touching everything from wearables to telemedicine in workers’ compensation.

The workers’ comp sector can certainly benefit from the range of options now available, but it’s important that return-to-work (not to mention return-on-investment for companies) remains a part of these decisions.

In a recent broadcast, Mark Purowitz, senior partner at Deloitte Consulting, told John Weber during an interview at Philly I-Day that Insurtech investment is primarily to “build capability” and to “buy capability” and urged potential investors to understand the “problem they’re solving for.”

A July 25th report from Willis Towers Watson called Insurtech investment “buoyant” in the second quarter of this year, continuing to increase the rate at which companies must invest in order to stay current and competitive.

The “Quarterly InsurTech Briefing” — the very existence of which underscores what lies within — notes that Q2 2019 saw “the fourth consecutive quarter during which total new funding commitments exceeded $1.2 billion.” This figure included 69 deals overall, with a total value of $1.41 billion. The value of investments in property/casualty firms rose by 283% compared to Q2 2018.

For some companies, technological investments could mean enhancing underwriting through AI, and for others, using IoT to track employees in the field. For claims handling in workers’ comp though, the picture is more complex.

What problems affecting injured workers are we solving for?

For a Risk & Insurance® piece on the intersection between the claims advocacy movement and Insurtech, I interviewed two leaders in the workers’ comp space who saw the problems and developed solutions for them.

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In ChronWell’s case, Joe Rubinsztain and his team created the Recovry app, which has the ability to immediately develop a care plan and text the injured worker about relevant claim information based on that plan within minutes.

Doing so eliminates the confusion that can lead to attorney involvement.

In Genex’s case, Helen Froehlich, VP of case management, helped develop an algorithm that works from the other end of a claim, helping case managers to manage their time and calendar commitments through claimant matching so that they can focus on the injured worker rather than data entry.

Both of these solutions, while not skinning the cat alone, have zeroed in on a central aspect of where workers’ comp needs to go in the third decade of the 21st Century: Toward a more unified, less adversarial place.

A place where injured workers can get their treatment faster and their questions answered immediately.

Capital continues to flow into Insurtech, as evidenced by the massive and growing InsureTech Connect conference happening in Las Vegas this September, which attracted “7,000 delegates from 60+ countries” looking at all lines and areas of the market.

Such dizzying displays not only offer real change, but also make it easy to lose sight of who matters and why the workers’ comp industry exists — to get people back to meaningful work.

Proceed with caution. &

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]