Standard Insurance Company recently put out a white paper on Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act compliance.
The disability insurer reported that 23 percent of the employers it surveyed are not sure how to handle disability-related absences and employee accommodations, and that only 37 percent have tried working with a disability insurer to come up with accommodations.
For employers, that lack of communication with insurers about helping motivated workers with disabilities stay at work is a liability time bomb.
For workers with disabilities who are not sophisticated enough to have ADAAA specialist attorneys on their speed dial list, the loss of income that results from that ignorance and lack of communication is a tragedy.
For insurers, maybe that ignorance is a marketing opportunity.
It seems as if disability insurers themselves feel as if they talk about return to work (RTW) so much that they're boring even themselves.
But, outside the disability insurance community, awareness of disability insurers' interest in return-to-work efforts seems to be low, at best. At worst, people who have gotten bad results with claims may see insurer return-to-work programs as wicked conspiracies against seriously disabled workers. (Who may, in some cases, be able enough to hike, water ski, go up on the roof to repair shingles and post angry messages about disability insurers 23 hours a day, but, hey, it's complicated...)
Policymakers also seem to be unfamiliar with the disability insurers' return-to-work programs.
Last summer, for example, the National Governors Association put out a 40-page report on employing people with disabilities -- without mentioning insurers' return-to-work programs.
Another thought: A few years ago, staffers at the old JHA disability insurance advisory business (which is now part of Gen Re) did a video on consumers' views on disability insurance that was hilarious.
Idea: Find whoever it was who did that video and get them to create a return-to-work reality TV show. Maybe, for example, the show could be a companion to A&E's "Hoarders" show. Maybe in the pilot, for example, an insurance company return-to-work coach could help a depressed, unemployed hoarder return to work.
The show would give some people with disabilities extra help with returning to work and increase consumer and policymaker awareness of the concept that disability insurers' do more than accept and deny claims.