Managing Catastrophic Events in Workers’ Compensation: Lessons from 9/11

By Ramona P. Tanabe

March 1, 2003 Related Topics: System Overview, Other

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 , made unprecedented demands on workers’ compensation systems. Important issues emerged for all participants. Following the attacks, workers and management focused their efforts on gaining prompt access to quality medical care and addressing immediate and long-term financial requirements. Employers also were faced with assessing the continued viability of their organization’s business. Claims organizations were challenged to process claims quickly and efficiently in order to facilitate the rebuilding of lives and businesses. State agencies played a central role in coordinating their actions with other entities and in managing the complex demands made on the system following the attacks.

At WCRI’s 2002 Annual Issues & Research Conference, panel members who had “on the ground experience” and who helped lead their organizations’ efforts to respond to the unprecedented events of September 11 shared their experiences and provided lessons and recommendations for actions by public officials, workers and employers, and claims organizations when confronted with catastrophe.

Richard Bell, Executive Director, New York State Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), provided background about the WCB, shared statistics about claims filed after the attacks and summarized the state’s response after the September 11 attacks.
Robert B. Steggert, Vice President for Casualty Claims, Marriott International, described the experience of a company that lost a hotel adjacent to the World Trade Center . He outlined the critical information that was required, the storage and retrieval of that information, and his company’s support and outreach to the employees and their families.
Debra Keiser, Vice President, World Wide Medical Manager, Chubb & Son, a division of Federal Insurance Company, outlined the steps a carrier should take following a disaster and the crucial role the coordination of the different areas of the response teams played.
Richard Thomas , Chief Underwriting Officer, American International Group, provides an overview of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002.

While this book is not intended to be an exhaustive list of actions to take to prepare for a catastrophic event, its lessons provide a strong framework on which to build. From these papers, one important theme emerges. For organizations coping with the aftermath of a disaster, cooperation and open communication among all parties are essential in order to achieve maximum outcomes.

Managing Catastrophic Events in Workers’ Compensation: Lessons from 9/11. Tanabe, Ramona P., Editor. March 2003. WC-03-3.

Copyright: WCRI

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