Six principles for helping employees engage in return to work programs and reduce group insurance premiums have been published by AIA Australia.

The principles were identified after independent research carried out by rehabilitation expert Petrina Casey for AIA Australia, which gathered data and experience from programs around the world as well as speaking to those undergoing return to work programs.

The research follows a survey conducted by AIA Australia last year following the Group Insurance Summit, which indicated that while 72 per cent of super funds had an occupational rehabilitation program in place through their insurer, 52 per cent thought employers were unaware of how to implement occupational rehabilitation practices.

The principles are as follows:

  1. Work is good for health and business – Understanding this philosophy will assist people to recover at work, encourage early claim notification and early intervention, and save employers money. Life insurers should aim to influence earlier notification of claims and/or encourage employers to act within the optimal time frame.
  2. Screening: part of a strategic claims management process – Having an operational model that has strong linkages between claims management activity and rehabilitation is essential. This involves clear protocols for referral to internal rehabilitation staff and for referral to external occupational rehabilitation providers.
  3. Claimants are supported and empowered – The evidence shows encouraging customers to resume normal activities, including work, to be effective in optimising return to work outcomes. Case managers that display empathy can strengthen the quality of the relationship with the claimant through the provision of support and guidance through the return to work process.
  4. Support the right intervention at the right time – Understanding the claimant’s circumstances and expectations with respect to their capacity to work following an injury or illness as soon as possible is important. This informs the appropriate intervention required and establishes a clear pathway for those coming back to work without specific intervention and those with risks requiring intervention.
  5. Communicate, collaborate and educate effectively – Collaboration with the return to work stakeholders (employer, doctor, healthcare providers, family, other) is important in setting and aligning expectations and achieving the best outcome.
  6. Focus on outcomes – For the individual life insured, appropriate outcome measures are captured and used to evaluate the effectiveness of the occupational rehabilitation services provided.

The 2014 annual Group Insurance Summit is being held at the Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney on August 20. To find out more on the conference or to register to attend, click here.

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