The California Workers’ Compensation Institute has issued a new “Industry Score Card,” the second in a new research series that looks at claims experience within key sectors of the California economy. The new Score Card provides detailed data derived from 361,384 work injury claims filed by professional and clerical workers. Overall, for the 8-year period spanning accident years 2001 through 2008, the Score Card shows that claims from professional and clerical workers represented 16 percent of all workers’ compensation claims in the state, and just over 15 percent of the claim payments, but notably, the economic slowdown has caused a shift in the state’s job market in recent years, so those proportions have been on the rise, with claims from this sector climbing to more than 20 percent of the claims and claim payments for accident year 2008.
At the same time, average payments on these claims — many of which involve strains, repetitive motion injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome, and other cumulative injuries — have shown recent increases as well. For example, the Score Card shows average first-year losses on professional/clerical claims rose from $9,710 in AY 2005 to $13,879 in AY 2007. In addition, because many of these claims remain open for extended periods, this sector is marked by higher-than-average loss development in the second and third years following injury. The loss development data for AY 2005 professional/clerical indemnity claims, for example, shows the average amount paid climbed 172 percent from the $9,710 at the 12 month valuation to $26,416 at the 36-month valuation. In comparison, over the same period average losses for indemnity claims from all sectors increased 129 percent, from $10,316 to $23,594.
In addition to providing a profile of the claimants in the professional/clerical sector, the Score Card shows claim distributions within this sector based on the claimant’s job classification and county of residence, the nature and cause of injury, the primary diagnostic category, and by the amount of premium paid by the employer. Claim closure rates at 12, 24 and 36 months post injury are also provided by accident year for all claims and for lost-time claims. Pre- and post-reform claim and payment distributions by type of claim (medical-only, temporary disability, permanent disability, and death) are shown, as are pre- and post-reform attorney involvement rates for permanent disability claims within this sector, with comparative distributions shown for all California work injury claims.
All of CWCI’s Industry Score Cards, along with a summary Bulletin, are available to CWCI members and research subscribers who log on to the Institute’s web site at www.cwci.org. Anyone wishing to subscribe to Institute Research and Bulletins may do so by visiting the Institute’s online Store. The next Score Card in the series will examine claims from the Mercantile sector.