No Time Loss Claims Cost Threshold Increase
On January 12, 2021, the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) announced that the claims cost threshold for No Time Loss (NTL) claims would remain at $1,500, the same as it has been since 2019 when the amount was raised from $1,400. But how does that impact WCB premiums? Although WCB cost threshold increases are not usually a benefit to employers, an increase to the NTL claims cost threshold is.
What is a No Time Loss claim?
The WCB defines a NTL claim as a situation where, following a work-related accident, an injured worker returns to regular duties without losing time from work beyond the day of accident and does not sustain a permanent disability. Medical costs and other benefits are issued but no income replacement payments are made. Employers are responsible to pay full wages for the day the accident occurred, therefore if time loss from work is necessary to seek medical attention at the time of the incident, it is covered by the employer. Further information about NTL claims and how they are adjudicated can be found here.
How do NTL claims affect WCB Premiums?
The impact of NTL claims on the calculations of WCB premiums is reflected differently depending on the size of the organization. For small business employers, or employers that pay less than $15,000 in WCB premiums over a three year period, the increase in the NTL claims cost threshold has no bearing. It is the number of claims and not the cost of claims that affect their rating.
For large business employers, or employers that pay more than $15,000 in WCB premiums over a three year period, the increase can have a significant effect on the premium calculation. NTL claims with costs under the threshold are not included in premium calculations however, NTL claims with costs over the established threshold are. For large employers, the costs of any NTL claims with costs over the threshold, and all time loss (TL) claims are totalled and then that total is compared with the industry average costs of employers of comparable size, in the same industry. If an employer’s total is lower than the industry average, they will receive a premium discount, if their total is above the average, they will be levied a surcharge. Therefore, being able to exclude NTL claims with costs under the threshold helps to minimize the total claims costs used to calculate premiums.
How can NTL claims costs be contained?
Since it does not matter how many No Time Loss claims a large business employer has under the $1500 threshold, it becomes even more important to control costs where possible. There are several ways that NTL claims costs can be contained and unnecessary time loss prevented, such as:
- developing and implementing an effective modified work program
- offering meaningful modified work options immediately following a work-related injury
- accommodating a worker’s schedule to attend medical appointments and treatments
- covering a worker’s wage loss to attend medical appointments and treatments and advising the WCB of same
- monitoring the progress of NTL claims by keeping in regular contact with injured workers during their recovery
- frequently reviewing NTL claims to ensure all costs are related to the injury sustained (Historical Claims Review)
What is the Benefit of the NTL Claims Cost Threshold increase?
The benefit of the increase in the NTL claims cost threshold for large employers means that NTL claims can accumulate higher total costs before they will be included in the total claims costs for the year.
Under the previous threshold:
If an employer has 5 NTL claims with costs under $1,400 each, the total cost of those claims would not be included in the claims cost amount used calculate WCB premiums. If an employer has 5 NTL claim with costs of $1,500 each, all costs associated with those 5 claims would be included.
Under the new threshold:
The 5 NTL claims, with costs under of $1,400, would not be used as part of the total claims cost figure. Therefore, the impact would be a lower claims costs for that employer, which could make the difference between receiving a discount or paying a surcharge.
The increase in the threshold is WCB’s way of recognizing changes in the general cost of living. An acknowledgement that it costs more to provide the same level of care and service now than previously. It is also a way to ensure employers to report work-related incidents without fear of the repercussions reflected in higher premiums.
Why Report Minor NTL Claims?
The final outcome of any WCB claim, even NTL claims, is not always clear until the claim reaches its conclusion. Sometimes what may appear to be a very minor injury can end up being more complicated and involved than expected. Although there is no real way of knowing when a claim will reach the NTL claim cost threshold, early WCB involvement on a claim can help provide timely medical investigation and intervention, ultimately keeping costs down. Delays in reporting can result in significant increase in costs, turning what may have been a NTL claim under the threshold into a claim that impacts your WCB premiums.
More information on WCB claims and how they affect WCB premiums can be found in our blog post here or at the WCB Alberta website here. If you would like additional explanation or further details on your business classification, modified duties programs, NTL claims review or how NTL claims will affect your organization you can connect with us on our Facebook page, through our Twitter account, on our LinkedIn profile and you can contact us directly, during business hours, through our chat feature or by calling us at 1-844-377-9545 and you can always reach us via email at [email protected] or at [email protected].