A Compassionate Look at the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance Problem – Part 2: Employers – And Everyone Else

June 26, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent blog post on the state of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system, we explored the implications of a disturbing survey recently conducted by the Charlotte News & Observer, which found that nearly 30,000 businesses operating in NC may be uninsured or underinsured.

We talked about how employees need to recognize the inherent dangers of working for a company that lacks good insurance coverage. If you or someone you care about worked at a company that lacked coverage, you may want to talk to someone at the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo immediately to understand your best next steps.

Beyond the tactical implications of the investigative article, what are some deeper points to consider? Here are a few insights the study can tell us:

1. The message is not getting through to business owners that they need adequate North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance.

Approximately 140,000 businesses have insurance, while 30,000 or so might not.

That’s a huge disparity! It suggests that there is a massive breakdown in the system. It’s not enough to blame business owners or to blame insurance companies. Some deeper, core constraint must be to blame. It’s incumbent on everyone who has a vested interest in the health of the workers’ compensation system to explore that constraint and figure out how to eliminate it or make it irrelevant. For instance, maybe business owners need to be notified about their responsibilities in a different way – or rewarded or/punished differently.

2. The “underinsurance problem” suggests that there could be other large scale problems with the system that might cause drag, inefficiencies, and excess costs.

Assuming that the Charlotte News & Observer did their homework properly, it’s hard to contextualize this problem as a “fluke.” Odds are that there are other gaping inefficiencies in the system that could possibly be surfaced and eliminated to everyone’s benefit.

3. We collectively need to do more “holistic thinking” about how to serve all the clients in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system better.

All too often, the discussions about how to reform workers’ comp become trivialized. It becomes law firms versus businesses, employees versus employers, employers versus insurance companies, etc, etc. In other words, there is this mentality of “the pie is only so big, so let’s grapple for our slice, tooth and nail”.

A more generous view: every stakeholder can benefit from positive reforms and improvements and efficiency.

So let’s expand the pie, instead of just slicing and dicing it.