The Key Role of Workplace Safety Education in Small Business Insurance

By Carla Woodard | July 8, 2024

It’s no surprise that a recent survey we conducted shows 25% of small businesses don’t feel secure in their understanding of workers’ compensation coverage and regulations. With many still feeling the talent shortage impact from the pandemic, they don’t often have the budget, time or resources to thoroughly understand their workplace risks and even what to do in the face of an accident.

As someone who’s been in claims management for more than 25 years, I’ve seen how impactful proactive safety education from insurers and their claims teams can be not only to the businesses’ loss experience but how it can also boost customer loyalty.

While 50% of small businesses shared in a recent survey that they have experienced at least one workplace claim in the past five years, we’ve begun to see remarkable progress regarding small business commitments to workplace safety, with only 2% of businesses citing it as a top concern. For a business owner, prioritizing the well-being of employees can take time and effort, but building a strong foundation of workplace safety practices from the outset (or dedicating that time now to updating best practices) can make a huge difference over time.

Workplace Safety Education Matters

Carla Woodard

According to the National Safety Council, if just one workplace injury can be avoided through an investment in safety within a business, it saves a company on average $37,000. By taking stock of how many injuries the organization has had, some quick math can show that improvements in safety can positively impact financials, and at the very least free up dollars that could be spent on other crucial initiatives.

Workplace safety education is all about giving employees the tools they need to avoid accidents and injuries where possible. By implementing training sessions, clear safety protocols, and ongoing learning opportunities to keep safety top of mind, businesses can expect to significantly reduce workplace accidents and illness as well as the costs associated with claims.

The Role of Claims Professionals in Safety Education

Claims professionals wear many hats, including that of a valued educational resource for business owners and injured employees. They have a unique set of skills that come with supporting injured employees on a daily basis, knowing the ins and outs of what happens after an accident occurs, sharing insights on what steps could have been taken to prevent the injury and how to help get the injured employee back on their feet quickly.

This presents a special opportunity for claims professionals to be trusted experts and advisors to small business owners and their employees during the claims process. This role is also a valued internal resource through close collaboration with partners across their organization – from marketing to underwriting to customer service.

A survey by Pie Insurance shows 21% of small business owners wish they’d emphasized workplace safety more during the start of their business. Even if claims have been submitted, it’s never too late to learn best practices for future prevention.

From a business impact perspective, by engaging with not only small business owners but also their insurance agents and offering educational safety resources, insurers can help prevent future incidents, reducing the overall number of claims and improving the loss ratio. By educating agents too, not only helps them educate clients but also makes the entire claims process more streamlined for everyone.

According to the NSC, CFOs have reported that for every dollar invested in injury prevention, $2 or more is returned. When businesses adopt strong safety measures, accidents are less likely to happen, leading to fewer and less severe claims. This, in turn, lowers claim costs and improves financial performance.

Building Strong Customer Loyalty

Workplace safety education can also help build customer loyalty and satisfaction. When insurance providers show they care about their clients’ safety, it builds trust and reliability. Clients value the added benefit of safety education, which goes beyond traditional insurance services.

By helping clients maintain safe workplaces, insurers build long-term relationships based on trust and respect, enhancing customer retention and loyalty. Positive feedback from clients who have benefited from safety initiatives highlights the significant impact of these educational efforts.

In my organization, we think of ourselves as advocates for small business owners and their employees. We want our customers’ employees to recover and get back to work so we do everything we can to get them the support they need. Small businesses don’t have the luxury of quickly back-filling positions or going weeks or months without their team members, especially for those businesses that employ expert tradespeople who are out in the field.

Here’s some steps you can take as a claims professional to make sure your customers and agents are prepared:

  • Share safety resources and tips, specific to the business type, early in the relationship (ideally, at the time a policy is bound).
  • Maintain active communication with policyholders through periodic reminders about safety, encouraging them to equip their businesses with safety mechanisms and to educate their employees in order to prevent workplace accidents.
  • If an injury does occur and a claim is filed, take that opportunity to speak with a policyholder about what might have been done differently to prevent or reduce the risk of injury and discuss ideas for proactively enhancing safety measures.

Ultimately, workplace safety education is a critical part of effective risk management in insurance. By empowering small business owners and their employees with the knowledge and skills to prevent accidents, insurers can likely reduce the frequency and severity of claims, and also build long-term relationships based on trust and empathy.

I believe the insurers with the longest future ahead are those who build proactive risk education into their organizations. Claims professionals have an opportunity to shape not only the success of their company but the health and safety of their customers. It is an important role and big responsibility I am proud to have.

Woodard is senior vice president of claims at Pie Insurance.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.