The 2021 Workers’ Compensation Power Brokers Share Their Insights in Advance of National Comp

The 2021 workers' compensation Power Brokers share industry insights.
By: | October 13, 2021

The last 18 months have been challenging for workers’ compensation insurance brokers.

Many of them faced challenges as a result of the pandemic that they had never experienced before. Challenging renewals ensued, with many brokers working overtime to help their clients get the coverage they needed.

For the first time, the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference (National Comp) will feature a panel of Risk & Insurance® worker’s compensation Power Brokers®.  Selected each year based on client testimonials, Power Brokers are among the best insurance brokers in their industry.  This year, they’ll share their insights with National Comp attendees.

Panelists include: Brian Chance, senior vice president claims and risk, Stephens Insurance LLC; Julie Raatz, senior vice president/senior claims advocacy manager, Marsh; and Jeffrey Breskin, vice president, workers’ comp claims specialist, EPIC Insurance Brokers.

Ahead of their panel, “2021 Workers’ Comp Power Brokers: Be Ready for What Comes Next” the Power Broker panelists spoke with Risk & Insurance to share their career journeys, what trends they’re seeing in the industry and other insights.

R&I: How did you come to work as a workers’ compensation insurance broker?  

Julie Raatz: I was an adjuster and supervisor in the claim office for a number of carriers/TPAs for 23 years before I came to Marsh.  I always liked teaching and guiding our insureds, so it seemed like a perfect fit.  It has been for the past 17 years.

Brian Chance: I was fortunate enough to just fall into it by good fortune.  When I graduated from college I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career and took a survey in my career planning and placement office.  The survey suggested a career in insurance so I pursued those jobs when on campus interviews began.  I took the best job I was offered and the rest just naturally unfolded over time.

Jeffrey Breskin: My broker path was through hard work, knowledge and dedication  on  the workers’ comp carrier side. I  had the opportunity to be one of the best workers’ comp examiners and supervisor at Liberty Mutual and a producer I worked with at Liberty  went on to work at Aon and felt that I would bring value added services to those larger clients and he felt that the broker path for me would be instrumental in my career.

R&I: What has been your biggest challenge as a workers’ compensation broker? How did you overcome it? 

JR: My biggest challenge was learning to look at things from the side of the client vs. the insurance company, especially true when working with coverage denials.

Because I would have likely had the same coverage opinion when I worked on the carrier side.  I overcame this challenge by getting to know our clients and how I could be a fit for their risk and claims departments.  Then it was easy to look at things from their perspective because I knew them and their companies.

BC: When I first started working in the workers’ compensation space I was really struck by how many people thought workers’ compensation was something that couldn’t be managed or controlled.  I set out to learn as much as I could about the issues driving costs and outcomes and use what I learned in my own practice.

JB: The first few years working with multi-state Fortune 500 Companies and understanding the workers’ comp laws and being able to discuss workers’ comp claims at a high level with the carriers and clients and become an extension of their risk management departments. I realized the more experienced and knowledgeable I became the more valuable I would become.

R&I: What made you want to speak on the top discoveries you’ve made in the past 18 months as part of a National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference session?  

JR: I’m committed to working on behalf of our clients.  Part of that is working with them to develop the best claims programs.  As adjusters are leaving the industry, there are few, if any others to replace them.  I have a client with hundreds of COVID-19 claims.

Their TPA has been working tirelessly to try and find temps or hire permanently.  No luck.  Where are we going to get experienced/trained adjusters. We need to be talking about that as an industry.

BC: The workers’ compensation industry has given me a great career and opened many doors for personal development.  I wanted to share some of what I learned with others to help encourage more people to enter our industry and continue to grow.

JB: I truly believe in mentoring and education. Putting on webinars and white papers throughout the pandemic was critical and becoming a huge part of my brokerage firm’s national claims team was key on the workers’ comp  experiences during COVID-19 as it pertained to the safety and health and claims.

This truly allowed me to rise to another level in my career and share my knowledge with my clients and be that trusted advisor.

R&I: What do you think the greatest challenge will be for your clients in 2022?  

JR: If they don’t like their TPA, it may be tough.  Adjusters are leaving one place to go to another.  They may end up as your adjuster again.  Plus the contraction of the TPA marketplace is a problem.  We’re going to talk about this.  Pretty soon there may be very little choice.  That does not speak well for customer service and claim handling.

BC: The US economy is going to continue to struggle with COVID, inflation, and labor shortages.  Every business in the US will be challenged to overcome these new challenges.

JB: I believe the greatest challenges will come from the carrier /WC marketplace as medical costs continue to rise in the U.S. and the guidelines and pricing for evaluation become more expensive. This will change the philosophies on how cases are settled on denied refuted claims. Because of these, we will see base rates going up and premiums going up. I also think that carrier services continue to be a challenge, finding good people and putting more of the onus on the broker services claims and loss control/safety.

R&I: What is one tangible thing you hope the audience takes away from the session?  

JR: Your broker has their pulse on the marketplace. In the months and years to come, you are going to need them more than you ever have in the past.  We see a broad vision across the industry and an invaluable resource for risk and claims managers.

BC: We are fortunate to work in an industry that at its core is based on repairing lives of injured employees and keeping the promises we make to our clients.  As long as we keep those 2 things in mind we’ll always find the right way to solve any issue that confronts us.

JB: I really hope that the audience walks away from the session  with a sense of information and understanding and being able to understand and see how the topics will enlighten them so that they can deliver educated and correct information. This will allow them to show their expertise in the broker world. &

National Comp — the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference — is back! We’re planning an in-person show for October, 20-22, 2021 and we’re excited to see everyone while still adhering to all safety protocols set forth by local and national health authorities at the time of the event.  Register today!

This year, we’ll feature seven tracks — from core content on medical and pharmaceutical management, claims and return-to-work, plus new and expanded avenues to explore like risk finance and injury prevention. All of our educational sessions are chosen for their ability to deliver sound takeaways and ideas that attendees can use right now.

In the meantime, National Comp will continue bringing you free virtual, educational content through our digital sessions series and our CompTalks program. Register today to make sure you don’t miss a digital session and check out our on-demand CompTalks library.  Missed a session? Watch it here on-demand.

Courtney DuChene is a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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