Workers Comp Claim File Reviews – Trends Not Individual Files


Most Workers Comp claim file reviews tend to lean towards reviewing only one or two large files.  That method remains a good way to analyze only those specific files.

A good associated article is this one on the claim adjuster’s everyday responsibilities.  Check it here.  The article is 11 years old, but still accurate today.

picture trees workers comp claims file reviewWikimedia Commons License – Wing-Chi Poon

The old adage of looking at the trees and not the forest applies here heavily. Discussing claims handling trends from one or two files usually does not work.  Why?  Let us look at the reasons.

Please note that this article is not a critique of adjusters or claims staff.

Reasons Specific File Reviews Do Not Equal Trends

  • Different adjusters – most large files are handled by seasoned  Senior Adjusters.  The files are reviewed often by the Claims Supervisor and Manager.   Having more eyes on a file usually results in much more documentation and a better claim direction.
  • Different adjusters part two – Each individual adjuster handles files differently.   An insured will usually have two or three adjusters working on their files.  If an insured has been with the carrier/TPA for many years, that number can easily total seven or eight adjusters.  Adjuster turnover seemed to increase during the pandemic.
  • Different jurisdictions- adjusters that have multistate claims know this one very well.  Each state has to be adjusted differently.  If the one or two files reviewed cover only one or two states and the claims’ jurisdictions are varied, this only adds to a myopic view of how the claims are being handled.
  • Different TPAs or Carriers – Trends can still be examined across multiple carriers or TPAs.   Specific workers’ comp claim file reviews make the review specific to that carrier or TPA.
  • Claims moved to a different handling office – this is one of those “secret” variations that can make the claims handling very different. Different claims offices handle the files differently.  Nowadays with everything being online, the files can be moved to a different handling office overnight.
  • Medical Only and Lost Time Claims – a good workers comp claims file review should always include medical only files. Check out this article on medical only claim reviews. 


The Rule of 7’s As a Guide

The Rule of 7’s in claims reviews was a term that I invented 20+ years ago.   I adopted it from the investing world.  Dividing a large number of claims by 7 tends to make a review task much smaller – and remember to include the medical only claims.  See the prior link in red on how to choose which ones to add to the total number set of claims.

Please avoid using “every 7th claim.”   This would not be a random sample.   The total number of claims would need to be at least 140 claims which would mean that 20 should be reviewed.  The larger the total claims count, the better.  Picking a few of the large files is great if you wish to have a review of those specific claims for some reason.  However, this defeats the random component.

Using a random number generator to pick the claims you wish to review will save time and effort.   Try this random number generator. 


***Please note that this article does not apply if you are reviewing files in a legal situation.  I recommend reviewing all available files for the workers comp claim file reviews as an expert witness.

This blog post is provided by James Moore, AIC, MBA, ChFC, ARM, and is republished with permission from J&L Risk Management Consultants. Visit the full website at

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