NCCI Update: A Presidential Discussion

07.12.2017


By Dara Barney

Boca Raton, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Sunny Florida wasn’t the birthplace of the National Council on Compensation Insurance, believe it or not, according to NCCI President and CEO Bill Donnell, who took the time to speak with WorkersCompensation.com recently.

“At the time in the mid-80s, rent costs were going up in Manhattan, NY, and NCCI needed more office space with all the growth. Management at that time narrowed it down to three places, and picked South Florida,” he said. And as for the location switch, “Our employees have a good quality of life here and the overall cost structure for companies is favorable. We are also close to universities, and a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) talent pool.”

And as far as AIS this spring, NCCI’s Annual Issues Symposium, business is booming there as well.

“I’ve heard several people say we are the Woodstock of the workers’ compensation industry conferences, and we do well in preserving our brand. We give them (attendees) what they want, while staying on topic with fresh material,” he said. “We also got rid of all the paper, developed an app, and have found ways to get information across in a more compelling way. People seem to really like it.”

This year’s theme, “The System@Work,” encounters an industry-wide issue head-on.

“We try to have themes that bring it all together. In recent years, there has been a lot of criticism directed at the workers’ compensation system. While the system is not perfect, it has served our country well for the last 100 years. At this year’s AIS, we had speakers and panels that highlighted the strengths of our system as well as areas that will challenge us,” he said.  “We also wanted to highlight examples of workers returning to work successfully, which is the ultimate goal and responsibility of our system and every stakeholder that participates in it.”   

“Adapting” was the word NCCI decided upon to reflect the industry this year, which Donnell said took a lot of thought and energy. The organization has chosen a word to fit the times for almost 15 years now.

“We needed a good descriptor, and this seemed to fit. Change is taking place at a faster rate than ever and the workers’ compensation system, which is now 100 years old, will need to adapt to those changes in order to thrive in the next 100 years,” he said. 

Conferences always seem to be about successes and challenges, but Donnell elaborated on what is unique to the workers’ comp and insurance world.

“1) We can’t take for granted the financial health of the system. Workers’ comp has a long tail. You could have a situation in which you are paying 40 years into the future. 2) The focus on safe workplaces is also very important. We are in a system where jobs are safer than they ever have been; loss time claims frequency has decreased by 50 percent. 3) In my view, the system is very valuable/unique and the priority in getting the injured worker back to work is very high.”

As far as the State of the Line report numbers, Donnell noted it is the second year in a row that the industry had a combined claims ratio of 94 percent. “2016 was a good year,” he said.

“The 2016 combined ratio is in line with the average combined ratio from the most recent underwriting cycle,” according to the report.

Back home in Boca Raton, NCCI employees now look ahead to next year’s 30th anniversary AIS event in Orlando, and Donnell preps for more traveling.

And what’s on his travel schedule?

“NCCI is the licensed rating and statistical organization in 37 states. I find that I can learn far more getting out and visiting with stakeholders at all levels, including carriers and regulators. I can’t get to all the states, but I try to make it to most. It’s good to get feedback and perspective on NCCI.”

There you have it folks: Look ahead to next spring’s AIS 30th Anniversary, and maybe even Donnell in a state near you.

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