There are few stakeholders in the system who would refute the headline of this article. As we grapple with the things we dislike about the workers’ compensation system, outside forces are chipping away at our bronze coating and creating new standards for adjusters and industry stakeholders. Is our hate for the system or contentment with the status quo overshadowing our understanding of the new exposure? Can we ask the tough questions that will force us to change from within and result in new performance standards?

From a historical perspective, the workers’ compensation system has operated on an autonomous, self-fulfilling island: Employees are injured; we provide them with lost wages, medical treatment and—hopefully—they return to work. If not, we litigate, agitate, and give injured employees monetary settlements to go away quietly. Throughout this process, we drag employers kicking and screaming to the end goal of closing the file.

On the surface, it appears that we do the same things over and over again with varied results. In reality, outside forces are chipping away at the status quo, so while we sit in our comfort zone, there is a growing interrelationship between state workers’ compensation and federal laws. This new relationship and challenging environment will require that we change the way we communicate with policyholders, define their exposures, educate adjusters, and manage claims.

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