By: Bob Hopkins
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What your WSIB Consultant should be able to tell you (and what you should ask them)
Since 2008, WSIB Consulting, for both Employers and Employees, has been a service regulated by the Law Society of Ontario. That means you must hold a license issued by the Law Society to provide legal services.
While many people will tell you it is only necessary to hold a license if you representing a company at a hearing (Appeals Resolution Branch or the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal) this is false.
The foundation of any appeal is the FORM-7. That makes that document, and any/all other WSIB documents legal documents. Anyone who advises on any WSIB issue/document is providing a legal service.
It is easy to identify a company that complies with the Law Society. Their company must be registered with Law Society to have a PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION as part of their name. If your service provider does not have PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION as part of their company name, you should ask them why they do not comply with the Law Society.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MY COMPANY?
The Law Society was asked by the province to regulate certain services (such as the Highway & Traffic Act, Immigration Consulting as well as WSIB services) provide consumer protection. Why would your company choose to forgo your right to consumer protection?
To maintain a license with the Law Society a legal professional must do the following:
- Carry Errors & Omissions Insurance of at least $2,000,000
- Complete the LSO’s Annual Report
- Participate in Continuing Education
- Maintain trust account records
- Follow all regulations of the Law Society for Record Keeping
Legal Professionals who maintain this standard receive a CERTIFICATE of AUTHORIZATION from the Law Society to provide legal services for that year.
SUMMARY: If your WSIB service provider cannot provide you with their CERTIFICATE of AUTHORIZATION from the Law Society AND provide you a proof of their ERRORS and OMISSIONS Insurance your company should probably start interviewing other service providers.
WHAT SHOULD I ASK A LICENSED SERVICE PROVIDER?
A licensed service provider can tell many things you:
- How they manage files
- Their references
- Their fees
Here is what you should ask them?
Can you explain my NEER/CAD-7 rebate/surcharge to me?
What is the tipping point when a NEER/CAD-7 claim becomes expensive?
How will Rate Modernization affect my company?
I have been a WSIB professional since 1997 and nothing makes me angrier than when a client has told me they love a consultant because they won a big decision for them, but the client did not save any money.
Winning only counts if you win money!!!
EXAMPLE 1 — Last year I met a company that was in both NEER (manufacturing) and CAD-7 (installing
masonry brick). They told me they loved their consultant – a licensee – because he won the 50% cost relief on a very expensive claim in their manufacturing division.
Note: this company wanted to win very badly because they felt this worker abused the WSIB system and, in turn, their company.
This claim had a cost of roughly $400,000, so 50% cost relief saved them $200,000 in accident costs.
However, their NEER account was very small and their maximum claim cost for that year was $80,000. Before the 50% decision, their NEER Performance Index was *4.00; after the decision, their Performance Index remained at *4.00.
The NET financial gain from the 50% award was $0.00!
The consultant worked for this company on an hourly basis. He earned his fees because he did what the client told them he would do – HE WON!
However, he never explained that winning would not help their bottom line. The client assumed winning would return money to their company.
EXAMPLE 2 – Recently I met with a trucking company that spent over $20,000 in legal fees fighting a WSIB claim. Their driver had an at-fault accident. The vehicle had to be written off and the driver will have to be retrained.
The company feels they should not be liable for any WSIB costs.
Their NEER shows this claim is beyond the maximum claim cost of $420,000 for that accident year. The owner cannot sleep because she does not know how she will ever pay this fee.
The good news: She will never have too. This is a small company. Their maximum NEER surcharge is less than $30,000.00, which they paid in 2016.
They have spent more than the cost of this claim in legal fees out of fear. I have advised them to stop the appeal because they will never recoup the cost of legal fees relative to the cost of the claim.
I had them ask their lawyer what the cost of the claim his. His response “I don’t know because the costs are unknown”. The costs are known. They are on the NEER statement!
It is not the cost of the claim. It’s how it impacts your NEER.
Example 3 –- Gradual On-Set Hearing Loss
At least once a month I contacted by an employer who has been told the WSIB has granted entitlement for a hearing loss claim for a worker who retired more than 5 years ago and they want to fight the claim.
The answer is always the same. There is no need to fight this claim:
- The claim is outside of the 4 year NEER window (or 5-year CAD-7 window)
- Gradual on-set claims ARE NOT experience-rated
- They will appear on your accident cost statement but those costs do not get charged to your NEER or CAD-7
In other words – No Harm, No Foul
The point of these examples is you should ask, “What’s in it for me if I win my appeal”. If the answer is $0.00 and you’re only fighting for pride, you need to put a price on your pride.
Or, as Professor Bob Kerton taught me in ECON 241 – Cost-Benefit Analysis – at the University of Waterloo in the fall of 1986.
“Bygones are Bygone”