Workers’ Comp Power Broker Rose Ko Shares Insight on Data Analytics’ Impact in the Sector and the Latest Trends to Watch
One of the knock-on effects of the pandemic is the way that it accelerated many trends that were just taking hold in workers’ comp, like telehealth and a greater emphasis on mental health and worker wellbeing.
Brokers have had to pivot and adapt quickly in order to bring clients the right solutions at the right time. Rose Ko, vice president, claims solutions, Marsh, is among six brokers honored as 2022 Workers’ Compensation Power Brokers for their achievements guiding clients through the new landscape.
Risk & Insurance® spoke with Ko about her journey through the industry and the latest claims trends she’s seen in the workers’ compensation space.
Risk & Insurance: How did you find yourself in insurance and also in the role you currently hold?
Rose Ko: I first got my exposure in insurance during the time when the State Compensation Insurance Fund did a large number of hirings, due to having over 50% of the workers’ compensation market share as several private carriers exited the market.
My current role in the broker capacity is new to me; I have always been on the carrier side. But I was excited to come across the opportunity for growth to learn another side of the industry. I thought it would be a great fit, and I have really been able to put my prior experiences and industry knowledge to use in helping clients.
R&I: What are the biggest differences you’ve seen in the way clients approach their workers’ compensation programs since the pandemic began?
RK: There are a few differences I’ve seen. First, is the quick adoption of telehealth to minimize delays in care. We have heavily leaned in on technology to keep stakeholders engaged.
I’ve seen a lot of inquiries about adopting work-from-home policies as the pandemic has opened the door for a hybrid work environment. A lot of companies were also being challenged to consider vaccine mandates for return to office and weighed the liabilities associated with that.
Others began looking to strengthen their pre-injury processes, whether it was fine-tuning their loss control efforts, implementing nurse triage programs or strengthening internal policies.
Another notable difference has been in staffing changes – both from the client and stakeholder side. I think everyone has experienced the effects of the Great Resignation. Many had to adapt new workflows due to key personnel changes. They’ve had to either reallocate resources, consolidate staff support or shift roles to fill in gaps.
R&I: What would you say are some of the bigger workers’ comp trends of note now that more and more offices are opening to a hybrid at-home/in-office work model?
RK: Employers have embraced the hybrid work model, and surprisingly, I really have not seen an increase in work-from-home related injuries. I think people enjoy the option of being able to work from home. However, I have seen an increased number of cumulative trauma claims and late reported claims.
Companies are also evaluating their internal policies to keep employee engagement and strengthening internal communication and policies around employee wellness.
R&I: What is your favorite thing about what you do?
RK: It is such a dynamic role. Different clients have different needs and approaches to how they manage their WC program. Sometimes you get unique scenarios that you’ve never come across, so you are challenged to come up with new ideas.
You learn something new all the time and find new ways to approach issues. It feels great when you can help clients bridge a gap and find a solution.
Marsh as a company also provides opportunities to get involved in process improvement projects and efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within the company.
R&I: What would you say is the primary thing clients are looking for when they come to you?
RK: Thinking outside of the box, they want fresh ideas. They are interested to know how their peers are managing some of the current challenges.
Another area I see clients wanting more information is smart analytics to help provide insights into their program and provide actionable information.
R&I: How would you describe your broking philosophy?
RK: Open communication with clients to understand their priorities and goals and how they interact with their stakeholders is essential for me.
I aim to take a collaborative team approach, establishing a long-term focused relationship with my clients and others I interact with in the industry.
Finally, when it comes to claims advocacy, I believe there should be an important focus on early intervention of claims when possible, and we, as an industry and as individual brokers, are now able to leverage data and analytics to do that. We are shifting to a proactive approach to mitigate claims before they become a problem. &