Target Hits the Mark on Claims Management

The most onerous risk area for retailers is claims management, and in particular, workers’ compensation claims. At the Managing Risk @ Retail session dedicated to “Productivity in the Retail Industry,” attendees learned about Target’s innovative return-to-work program from Sara Paul, senior manager, claims, Target Corp.

At Target, Paul leads a 14-person claims team that manages approximately 100,000 incidents and 45,000 claims annually. Paul’s team administers claims management for workers’ compensation, general and auto-liability and property losses.

The most important thing when an employee is injured or ill, Paul stressed, is to remember that productivity is about the person. “It’s about treating that employee the way we would want to be treated. At Target, our employees are part of our team, they are not commodities,” she said.

If a Target employee is injured or becomes ill, Paul explained, “The goal is to get the employee back to work as quickly as possible—because it’s the right thing to do for the team member and for the company.”

At the Minneapolis-based retailer, every incident is reported, according to Paul, and a nurse line is available 24/7 to offer advice on how to handle treatment.

“We have a custom-designed electronic form to accelerate reporting of incidents,” explained Paul. “Also, the nurse line can e-mail or fax care instructions directly to the store, including giving them directions to the local [health-care] clinic.”

The processes that Target employs make it easier to determine which events need to be turned over to the retailer’s third-party claims administrator, Memphis, Tenn.-based Sedgwick Claims Management Services.

“We want our TPA [third-party administrator] to respond the same way we would,” continued Paul, so one thing Target does is limit the volume of cases managed by each Sedgwick representative. “Our caseload cap with Sedgwick is set at 125, which is well-below industry standards and allows us to give claims the attention they deserve.”

Paul, who joined Target Corp. in February 2007, shared pleasing year-to-date results. In terms of prompt reporting, 94% of all the Target stores reported incidents within 24 hours.

On the return-to-work side, 100% of the stores were able to accommodate employees with like-duty assignments to minimize the time they missed and maintain productivity. Additionally, 30% of all the employees filing workers’ compensation claims returned to work without missing any time.

“If a store is unsure about how to accommodate an employee with a like-duty assignment, it can send an electronic alert and my team can coach the store on modifications so they can accommodate the worker,” noted Paul.