A Simple Boy From Durango Surrounded By Stupidity

12 Jun, 2012 Bob Wilson


I should note in regards to the title of this rant, I am not really surrounded by stupidity. I work with exceptional people, and we have some absolutely terrific customers. Many, many people I deal with in the industry are first rate professionals, and I am privileged to know them.

If you are aware enough of the workings of our industry to find and read this blog, rest assured I am likely not talking about you.

I am a just a simple boy from Durango, a small town nestled in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Having moved there at the age of ten from New Jersey, it was a place that could provide quite a culture shock to the uninitiated. But, at the time I grew up there, Durango had many “western minded” independent people whose word was their bond, and with whom a handshake was considered an iron contract. When I was growing up, the people of Durango, commonly referred to as Durangotangs, didn't cotton to stupidity. At least that is what they kept telling me. I'm not sure why they felt the need to repeat it so often.

I don't know if it is the same today, as the town is now full of people who have abandoned southern California, and now firmly ensconced, are all busily working to prevent others from moving there as well.

Now, despite my opening disclaimer, there are still times when I definitely feel as though I am surrounded by stupidity, and I have a little trouble “cottoning” to it. I once wrote about the goofy things we get in the mail here at WorkersCompensation.com, and the flow of ridiculous things remains unabated. Many people mistake our company as being the governing body of all things workers' comp. While I understand that with small employers and employees new to the system, it is when it happens with people making their income from workers' comp where stupidity reigns supreme. And even non-comp employees and small employers really push the envelope from time to time.

We get numerous phone calls every day from people looking for their check, status of their claim, trying to buy insurance, establish an exemption, or to explain that their ex is getting workers comp, having child support withheld, and wondering when we will be sending them the money. We get calls from people who have lost their jobs, and since they were workers, are looking for their compensation. One call we received was from a young lady who wanted to know how to get workers' comp. When advised what it was, she said, "Oh, you mean I have to get hurt first?" And then there are the multiple calls from people looking to turn in their brother in law, who is working for cash under the table at Phil's Rusty Car Barn and Beauty Shop while collecting workers' comp. We've developed a phone answering system with recorded messages designed to assist these people, but many of the more persistent and less acutely aware (never a good combo) keep trying until they get a human who will tell them they have a wrong number.

Inevitably, they argue with our employees, insisting "but this is the number they gave me" (usually the telephone information service). Then they ask what number they should be calling. It is like calling Home Depot and asking for the meat department, and then when told it is a wrong number asking “what number do I call for meat?”

In the mail we have received psychiatric evaluations, requests to be admitted to our "network", and more. We often receive medical bills for the treatment of injured workers. In the past we have been subpoenaed for medical records of claimants by law firms and record retrieval services. Several of these requests were related to one case, and were sent to:

New York Workers' Comp Board
PO Box 2432
Sarasota, FL 34230

Last week we got bills for treatment from a medical provider in Utah, for a worker injured from Wyoming, and bills for treatment from a medical provider in Indiana treating an injured worker from Utah. The first was sent to:

Wyoming Workmans Comp   
PO Box 2432
Sarasota, FL 34230

Wyoming Workmans Comp

(Click for detail view)

The latter was sent to:

Utah Workers' Comp
PO Box 2432
Sarasota, FL 34230

Utah Workers Comp

(Click for detail view)

We got both bills on the same day. They came from different providers.

Look at the three examples again. Do you see a potential problem with them?

But the absolute, hands down winner last week was a gentleman who phoned our office last Tuesday morning. He was a garage door installer from a monopolistic state, and had questions about the insurance he had purchased from us online the night before. This was somewhat of a surprise to us, as we do not sell insurance online, and certainly would not do so for a monopolistic state. About 30 companies a day request help in getting insurance through our site and are referred to a partner for assistance, but we don't "sell" insurance online.

The man went on to insist he had bought the insurance policy we sell for $49 a month on the site. We have a Compliance and Regulatory Research system called WorkCompResearch.com, and there is an option to buy a license to it for $49 a month. But it doesn't include insurance coverage. Sure enough, that is what he had purchased, and he believed that he and his employees were now covered under workers compensation.

Glad he wasn't calling with a claim. We'd have to deny that for sure.

I can overlook some of the non-professional's confusion that we see, and we do make efforts to send people in the right direction. But I suppose the point of this entire sordid story is this: if you plan on making a living in and from the workers' compensation industry, you should at least make the slightest effort to understand what it is and how it works. Stand on your own two feet. Be responsible for your actions. Learn what comp is and how it works. Anything less is just, well, stupid.

Even a simple boy from Durango can understand that.




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