By Kendra DePaul, BWC Other States Coverage Manager
Last week, I spent a few days attending the Annual Conference of the American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds (AASCIF). AASCIF is an association of workers’ compensation state funds from 26 different states, plus 8 workers’ compensation boards in Canada. Each year the conference is hosted by a state fund and this year WCF Insurance (Utah State Fund) hosted hundreds of attendees to discuss workers’ compensation issues and find ways to incorporate best practices in our own organizations. The week was jam packed with speakers, classes and opportunities to meet staff from state funds across the country.
Attending as a large monopolistic state fund, it is clear that BWC is different than many other of the state funds in attendance. We are very large in terms of written premium, and at the same time, we are required to provide coverage to all employers in Ohio (expect for those who self-insure).
The unique structure of BWC comes with its own benefits and challenges. Our large size allows us to have robust safety programs, such as safety intervention grants and research grants to universities. On the other hand, with nearly 250,000 policyholders in Ohio, finding ways to communicate to diverse parties can be challenging.
Although BWC is different, these conferences always remind me that we are also very much the same. Some of the topics discussed included IT System Conversions and Ways to Improve Safety and Coordination of Care for Injured Workers – all topics we are working on here in Ohio.
One topic that really hit home was the need to recruit more people into the workers’ compensation field. Just like Ohio BWC, many state funds are facing significant retirements in the next few years without enough incoming staff to fill their roles. The message was clear – we need to attract more young people to the industry. And being a young person myself, I enjoy working in a field where no two days are alike and where I have the opportunity to help people every day. I think that if we can get people’s feet in the door, they will find that workers’ compensation is a challenging, interesting and rewarding industry to work in. I am very excited about our new Fellowship Program in the Division of Safety and Hygiene and I think similar programs could help expose college graduates to the field.
Reflecting on the whirlwind of classes, speakers and events last week, the one thing I keep coming back to is the people. Working in the industry for just four years, I have been continually impressed by how genuine the people are. Especially during implementation of BWC’s Other States Coverage program, many of our AASCIF brother and sister funds have offered their assistance. And as I have taken them up on their offers, I have found them to be more than willing to share any tips and tricks they learned along the way. It is also clear the state funds care deeply about providing excellent service to the policyholders and injured workers in their care.
In a world that can sometime put profits before people, I am proud to be part of a group that focuses on people.