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By Chris Richmond
Originally Submitted to WorkBoat Magazine

We’ve spent some time in this space discussing the Jones Act, which covers your crew on owned vessels and USL&H, which responds to your employees who meet the situs and status of the federal act. Now let’s talk about another layer of protection for employees: State workers compensation insurance, which for many smaller yards can be a primary coverage for employees.

The action of every employee at a yard can have a dramatic effect on the cost of a workers compensation insurance policy.  Here’s why:

A workers compensation base premium is calculated by two things: Job classifications for each employee (based on the work they are doing) and the payroll associated with each classification. Your premium is multiplied by your experience mod. A neutral experience mod is 1.0. With yards experiencing frequent or expensive claims, the experience mod will increase, as will your premium. For yards experiencing no claims, this number will go do down − and so will your premium.

The calculation of an experience mod is based on the prior three years of policy period. When a claim occurs, you can reduce the negative impact of an injured employee on your experience mod by getting them back to work as soon as possible. Medical-only claims are weighted far less than indemnity benefits claims.

Aside from telling your employees to be careful and not get hurt there are other ways to help create a safer work space. For starters, contact your workers compensation company. They will have all sorts of workshops and webinars to assist you, very often if not always, at no cost to you. Schedule a visit with their loss control department and have one of their safety management consultants do a walk thru of your facility. This can turn in to an annual event and can help you track improvements or areas of concern to address. Your state department of labor will also have consultation services available. By getting a new set of eyes on your facility and workforce simple improvements can be made that can have dramatic effects in a safer work environment.

Finally, review your experience mod work sheet with your agent. Mistakes in coding can have a negative effect to your policy. Recently we were reviewing a boatyard’s report and noticed a claim that should have been coded as medical-only had been mis-coded as indemnity. This had a dramatic effect to the mod in the wrong direction and once corrected reduced the insured’s premium. Have a chat with your agent, it could save you some money.

Chris Richmond, AAI, CMIP