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Mark Walls

Mark Walls

Mark Walls is the vice president, communications and strategic analysis, at Safety National. Mark is also the founder of the Work Comp Analysis Group on LinkedIn, which is the largest discussion community dedicated to workers’ compensation issues. Founded in 2008, the group has become a widely recognized resource to the workers’ compensation industry.

Mark has been a frequent writer on workers’ compensation topics and has had articles in many publications, including Business Insurance, Risk & Insurance and Claims Journal. He has also spoken on risk management issues at several national conferences, including RIMS, PRIMA, URMIA and the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference and Expo. In 2009, Lexis Nexis named him one of the Notable People in Workers Compensation.

Recent Articles by Mark Walls

9 Months on: COVID and Workers’ Comp

The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for over nine months now, with no end in sight. During this time, we conducted several Out Front Ideas COVID-19 Briefing webinars and The Path Forward virtual conference. These educational events were designed to provide risk managers and others in the industry with a better understanding of how […]

State of Commercial Insurance Market

In a survey of frequent Out Front Ideas attendees, one of the biggest concerns raised by risk managers was the rapidly evolving insurance marketplace. These challenges started back in 2018, but COVID-19, civil unrest and other events have accelerated this change. At the Out Front Ideas virtual conference, a panel discussed these challenges. Our guest […]

We Are Open for Business; Now What?

Established continuity plans are an essential part of a business’ reopening in a post-COVID-19 world. Expectations for success continue to rise as more businesses reopen with safety as a top priority. With a growing list of resources and recommendations, many employers are wondering where to start.   We partnered with the Public Agency Risk Management Association […]

Firms’ Priorities During Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is upending the way employers conduct regular business operations. Most industries now face a wide variety of challenges, including dislocation of their workforce, lost revenues, changing priorities and employee safety, to name a few. Three industry experts joined us for our special edition Out Front Ideas COVID-19 Briefing Webinar Series to discuss […]

Access to Care, Return to Work in a Pandemic

As businesses around the country prepare to reopen, there is a concerted effort made to prioritize the safety of the workforce. Employers are also preparing to face more leaves of absence than ever as they account for employee childcare needs, at-risk groups with pre-existing conditions and possible employee COVID-19 cases. So, how do we approach […]

Pain Management, Wellbeing in Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has put an enormous strain on the healthcare system, delaying non-emergency medical care, potentially creating a higher risk for pain patients. However, the behavioral health community is adjusting with transitions to telemedicine and other alternatives that allow their patients to receive the care they need. With clinicians feeling additional stress during this […]

Impact of COVID-19 on Workers’ Comp

Since starting the Out Front Ideas COVID-19 Briefing Webinar Series just a couple of weeks ago, we have been receiving questions from our listeners regarding COVID-19 and how it is changing the landscape of workers’ compensation. With daily changes in regulations occurring across the country, we wanted to answer the most pertinent questions affecting how […]

Business Continuity During COVID-19

Potential business disruptions are part of a company’s regular continuity plan. Still, few were prepared for the impact of a global pandemic that has shut down businesses around the world. Many companies have faced challenging decisions like laying off or furloughing employees for an extended period, while others have had to shift to a fully […]

Evolving Health Tech Models in Work Comp

Technology is continuously changing the healthcare landscape. From reshaping ease of access to quality care to improving system efficiencies and interoperability, all aspects are reimagined. Telemedicine and digital health are disrupters that will continue to evolve on-demand solutions and care management significantly. Three industry leaders from the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation joined us […]

Impact of COVID-19 on Workers’ Comp

There is much discussion right now on the impact that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) will have on workers’ compensation. Most of this discussion has focused on the potential for claims activity arising from the virus. The determination of whether a communicable disease is “work-related” is a case-by-case evaluation. The large employers that I work with tend to […]

20 Work Comp Issues to Watch in 2020

2020 kicks off our sixth year of Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark, and we begin the year with our 20 Issues to Watch. You will notice that many of these issues reach beyond our usual focus on workers’ comp and healthcare. We also included issues relating to risk management, workforce management and employee […]

Understanding the Big Picture in Work Comp

In workers’ compensation, the trends over the past few years have been pointing to declining rates in most states. At the 2019 NCCI Annual Issues Symposium (NCCI-AIS), NCCI indicated the 2018 industry private carrier calendar year combined ratio was a record low of 83%. I heard comments from many carriers attending the NCCI-AIS that they […]

Measuring Success in Workers’ Comp

The adage says, “What gets measured gets managed.” What does that mean for workers’ compensation? What can we measure to truly improve outcomes for everyone in the workers’ compensation system, from injured workers, to employers, to insurers and others? Are we measuring the most important metrics, or are we as an industry spending too much […]

Social Determinants of Workforce Health

Getting the best outcomes for injured workers involves much more than just treating the actual injury. Their recoveries depend on a variety of additional factors; such as whether they have access to healthy food and clean water, their ability to travel to medical appointments and the extent of support they have. Increasingly, workers’ compensation payers […]

ERM: Tactics, Trends for Public Entities

The public sector faces a set of unique risks and challenges. In this session at the RIMS 2019 Annual Conference & Exhibition, members of the Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA) discussed trending topics related to public entity risk management. Speakers included: David Demchak, president & CEO, Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency Raymond Sibley, director of […]

Addressing PTSD in the Workplace

The occurrence of school shootings, store robberies and job-related fatalities have all contributed to the increase in cases of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) in the workplace. This session at the RIMS 2019 Annual Conference and Exhibition discussed the need to address the issue on a broader basis. Speakers included: Dr. Teresa Bartlett, senior vice president, […]

Telemedicine: Last Frontier for WC?

Telemedicine makes it possible for injured employees to reach a qualified clinician from home or the worksite, providing a promising alternative that ensures early treatment. In a session at the RIMS 2019 Conference and Exhibition, panelists discussed how technology can improve efforts to manage an injured employee’s healthcare experience. Speakers included: Ann Schnure, vice president […]

Taking Aim at Workplace Violence

Workplace violence can happen any time and anywhere. This session at the RIMS 2019 Annual Conference & Exhibition reviewed a spectrum of workplace violence risk management tactics, including red flags that can foreshadow an event and training on what to do if an event does occur. Speakers included: Dr. Teresa Bartlett, senior vice president, medical […]

7 Safety Trends for Today’s Workplace

Monumental changes in how and where work is performed create new risk and safety challenges. This session at the RIMS 2019 Annual Conference & Exhibition examined emerging workplace risks and effective safety strategies to address them. Speakers included: Larry Pearlman, senior vice Ppesident, workforce strategies practice, Marsh Timothy Martin, global health and safety manager, Steelcase […]

The Globalization of Risk Management

Globalization is affecting just about every business these days. Even if a company operates only in the U.S., its customers, suppliers and traveling employees may very well be in another country. That means the laws, regulations and cultural differences in those areas are likely affecting the organization. This increased globalization of businesses means risk managers […]

How to Approach the Future of Work

The workplace is evolving, to the point that many people have no actual “place” from which to work. Some do their jobs remotely, while others work from locations such as their cars, if they are part of the gig economy. While we often think about technology and automation as driving influences for the future of […]

Adapting to Leave of Absence Regulations

The intersection of workers’ compensation with laws on leave of absence and job accommodation has become increasingly challenging. With the expanding number of federal, state and municipal laws on the books, there is also confusion about how and when they overlap. There are many inconsistent approaches and far too many organizations forced to compensate for […]

Workers’ Comp Issues to Watch in 2019

We kick off 2019 by discussing 20 issues the workers’ compensation community should be monitoring. Our list includes both employee benefits and workers’ compensation issues, as these two areas inevitably overlap. Later in the year, several of these topics will be developed into individual “Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark” webinars. Just because an […]

Insurtech: Revolution, Evolution or Hype?

Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, robotics, quantum computing — the terminology of technology is staggering enough, let alone understanding what it is and how to use it. While some of the advances in technology are more noise than anything useful, many of these developments can be quite valuable for […]

Workplace Violence: Assessment, Response

Workplace violence is a daily threat to workers in many industries. Aside from mass shootings, which grab headlines, more than 2 million workers are victims of violence every year. The issue is a challenge for employers striving to maintain a safe working environment for their employees. By understanding the scope of the problem, the underlying […]

Bridging Health and Productivity at Work

The wellbeing of our workforces is vitally important because it affects both the top- and bottom-line performance of an organization. Programs that focus equally on the personal health of employees and their professional productivity needs are becoming essential to help companies attract and retain talent. This was the subject of a recent “Out Front Ideas […]

Carrier’s Perspective on Large WC Claims

High-dollar workers’ compensation claims are rare, but they can be extremely costly and have a significant impact on an employer’s workers’ compensation costs. The rarity of these claims makes studying them challenging. Safety National recently completed a review of our large claims and uncovered some trends. Background/Definitions Safety National is the largest provider of excess […]

Is Value-Based Care Coming to WC?

At the WCRI Annual Issues and Research Conference, Randall Lea MD from Alice Peck Day Hospital discussed value-based care. The hospital has been working on a study of value-based care and the workers’ compensation industry. Value-based care has been gaining traction on the group health side but not in workers’ compensation. Study participants included medical […]

Workers’ Comp in the Year 2030

At the WCRI Annual Issues & Research Conference, Dr. Richard Victor, former CEO of WCRI and currently a senior fellow with Sedgwick Institute, discussed his views of workers’ compensation in the future. The workers’ compensation system was a compromise between labor and business designed to provide no-fault benefits in an environment that gave exclusive remedy […]

Workplace Wearables — Now What?

When you combine the ability to collect workplace data with evolving data analytics and machine learning, you can improve productivity, worker safety and fraudulent and exaggerated claim rates. During a session at the RIMS 2018 annual conference, Eric Martinez, founder and CEO of Modjoul, and Lance Ewing, EVP of global risk management and client services […]

5 Pitfalls on Business Interruption Claims

At the 2018 RIMS annual conference, Christopher Loebler from the firm McCarter & English discussed business interruption claims. Business interruption usually falls within your property policy. The coverage is triggered by a property loss from a covered peril under the policy that shuts down your business for a time. One in five U.S. companies sustain […]

Natural Disasters and Risk Management

For many people, their first thought about natural disasters is the devastating property damage that is extremely visible and highlighted by the media. However, the impact of natural disasters goes far beyond property damage and includes the impact to your workforce, your supply chain and the operations of your business. During a recent Out Front […]

Alternatives to Opioids for Pain Management

One of the areas of focus on Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark has been addressing chronic pain without opioids. The workers’ compensation industry’s approach to chronic pain has historically been trying drugs and other medical procedures first. Then, if the pain has not subsided or has worsened, we look for psychological factors. If […]

2018 Workers’ Comp Issues to Watch

The first Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark webinar of 2018 provided our thoughts on the 20 Workers’ Compensation Issues to Watch in 2017. What follows is a summary of the issues discussed: Healthcare The healthcare industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and the evolution is vast, encompassing everything from pharma to […]

The State of Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is constantly evolving with new case law and legislation around the nation every year. Because of this, managing a workers’ compensation program is a huge challenge for risk managers. At the CWC and Risk conference Mark Walls lead a panel discussion around the state of workers’ compensation. The panel included: Janine Kral, Vice […]

Perspectives From Injured Workers

Many stakeholders in the workers’ compensation industry have been engaged in conversations regarding opportunities to improve the workers’ compensation system. The perspective of injured workers has been lacking in these conversations. This perspective has been difficult to obtain because there really are no respected “injured worker” advocacy groups such as there are in the group […]

How to Assess Municipal Threats

At the 2017 PRIMA Annual Conference, a session discussed development of a municipal risk assessment program. The speakers were: Dan Hurley – risk manager, City of Chesapeake, VA Marilyn Rivers – director of risk and safety, City of Saratoga Springs, NY A threat assessment is designed to determine vulnerabilities of employees to physical harm. Public […]

Impact on Mental Health in Work Comp

According to the World Health Organization, mental health is described as: “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stress of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” But the World Health Organization’s […]

Perception v. Reality on Police Brutality

At the 2017 PRIMA Annual Conference, a session discussed real-world examples of high-profile police shootings where media coverage and public perception affected litigation with allegations of police brutality. The speakers included: Michele Molinario – Partner, Jones Skelton & Hochuli John DiCaro – Partner, Jones Skelton & Hochuli Are there more officer-involved shootings now than previously? […]

Essential Elements on School Risk Control

At the 2017 annual PRIMA conference, Ariel Jenkins and Kevin O’Sadnick of Safety National led a conversation on the essential elements of school risk control programs. School visitor management consists of entrance hardening (add extra set of doors or windows, and visitors have to check in), criteria for visitors (parents, teacher visitors and grandparents), 100% […]

Opportunities for Treatment Guidelines

Medical treatment guidelines can be a great benefit to any workers’ compensation system. They can prevent unnecessary medical procedures and the prescribing of potentially harmful medications. However, they are not all the same, nor are they without challenges. Understanding a jurisdiction’s strengths and shortcomings, taking a strategic approach to developing treatment guidelines and following some […]

2017 Issues to Watch in Workers’ Comp

The first Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark webinar of 2017 provided our thoughts on the 20 Workers’ Compensation Issues to Watch in 2017. What follows is a summary of the issues discussed: 1. Election Impact The Department of Labor under President Obama had made it clear that they felt state workers’ compensation systems […]

How the C-Suite Sees the Future

At the 2016 PCI Annual Meeting, a panel of retiring insurance executives discussed lessons learned over their careers. The panel comprised: Marguerite Tortorello – moderator Terrance Cavanaugh – president and CEO – Erie Insurance Group Kenneth Ciak – vice chairman – Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance Tad Montross – retired CEO – Gen Re J. […]

How to Improve Claim Audits — and Profit

A session at RIMS 2016 illustrated how to methodically examine and review the right activities in claims audits to improve the bottom line. Speakers in this session were: Jenny Novoa, senior director of risk management, Gap Joe Picone, claim consulting practice leader, Willis Towers Watson They explained that, in a claims management context, an audit […]

Managing Behavioral Health at Work

At the RIMS 2016 Annual Conference, Kimberly George, senior vice president of Sedgwick, and Scott Daniels, director of disability for Comcast, discussed an approach to managing mental and behavioral health in the workplace. The discussion focused on how Comcast deals with these issues. Comcast has a very diverse workforce, owning a cable company, multiple television […]

Politics of Guns and Workplace Safety

The politics of guns in America are volatile, divisive and passionate, yet the risks that firearms present to organizations every day do not depend on the politics of the moment. Employers must deal with the reality of gun violence in America. A RIMS 2016 session discussed the legal aspects of what organizations can do and […]

How Should Workers’ Compensation Evolve?

Workers’ compensation has been around for more than 100 years. It was developed as a grand bargain between labor and employers to ensure that injured workers received appropriate medical care and wage-loss benefits while employers received protections against tort lawsuits arising from workplace injuries. The workplace is vastly different than it was when workers’ compensation […]

How Bureaucracy Drives WC Costs

Workers’ compensation is one of the most highly regulated lines of insurance. Every form filed and every payment transaction is an opportunity for a penalty. Claims can stay open for 30 years or longer, leading to thousands of transactions on a single claim. Each state presents different sets of compliance rules for payers to follow. […]

Future of Work Comp Healthcare Delivery

Reform is changing healthcare delivery models, but there is a large gap between the healthcare related to workers’ compensation and the group health approach. As a result of healthcare reform, the industry has experienced significant consolidation of health systems and medical practices, with an added emphasis on patients as consumers of healthcare, all as providers […]

20 Work Comp Issues to Watch in 2016

In an “Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark” webinar broadcast on Jan. 12, 2016, we discussed our thoughts around the issues that the workers’ compensation industry should have on its radar for 2016. What follows is a summary of 20 issues that we expect to affect our industry this year. Election Cycle Everyone knows […]

Workers’ Comp Market Trends

Senior executives from some of the top California workers’ compensation carriers identified emerging trends that are of great importance to California employers at the 2015 California Workers’ Compensation and Risk Conference. Panelists were: Moderator: Pamela Ferrandino, national casualty practice leader at Willis North America Mike Mulray, chief underwriting officer at Everest National John Dickey, regional […]

State of Workers’ Comp in California

At the 2015 California Workers’ Compensation & Risk Conference, this panel of industry stakeholders weighed in on the overall condition, including cost drivers and legislation, affecting California’s workers’ compensation system: Moderator: Mark Walls, VP communications and strategic analysis at Safety National David North, CEO at Sedgwick Kevin Confetti, deputy chief risk officer at University of California […]

Why Mental Health Matters in Work Comp

At the 2015 Paradigm Innovation Symposium, Renée-Louise Franche, PhD, RPsych, clinical psychologist and consultant in work disability prevention and occupational health, presented a session discussing why mental health issues are so important in workers’ compensation. Mental health issues in injured workers can no longer be ignored. These conditions are increasingly being recognized as potential risk […]

Taking a New Look at the ‘Grand Bargain’

Workers’ compensation was established more than 100 years ago as a “grand bargain” between employers and labor. Injured workers gave up their right to sue employers in civil court for workplace injuries, making workers’ compensation the “exclusive remedy” for such injuries. In exchange, injured workers received statutory benefits in a no-fault system. Over time, we […]

What Physicians Say on Workers’ Comp

At the 2015 Harbor Health MPN Medical Directors Meeting, a panel discussed current issues affecting workers’ compensation. The panel consisted of: Dr. Tedd Blatt (moderator) Dr. Craig Uejo Dr. Don Dinwoodie Dr. Minh Nguyen Dr. Kayvon Yadidi Question: What are the things physicians can do or should do to improve workers comp? Physicians need to assist […]

What Will Workers’ Comp Be in 20 Years?

At the 67th annual SAWCA Convention, Frank Neuhauser, executive director of the Center for the Study of Social Insurance (CSSI) at University of California at Berkeley, opened his keynote by discussing the future of workers’ compensation. He noted that the current system does not efficiently address the issues that employers and employees face today. In 1915, […]

Things Not Mentioned in ProPublica

By now, most of you have read the series of articles published by ProPublica on “The Demolition of the Workers’ Comp.” These well-written articles touched on some very important issues faced by our industry. For example, caps to the wage-replacement benefits provided under workers’ compensation can devastate employees earning higher wages. In addition, there is […]

Physician Dispensing: Costs, Consequences

At WCRI 2015, the panel of Vennela Thumula (Workers Compensation Research Institute), Dongchun Wang (WCRI) Alex Swedlow (California Workers’ Compensation Institute) and Artemis Emsilie (myMatrixx) tackled physician dispensing. Eighteen states have made changes to their rules regarding physician dispensing, with a focus on pricing. Four states (Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida) also put limits […]

Workers’ Comp Issues to Watch in 2015

Tis the season for reflections on the past and predictions for the future. As we kick off 2015, here are my thoughts on the workers’ compensation issues to watch this year. What Does TRIA’s Non-Renewal Mean for Workers’ Compensation? Thanks to congressional inaction, a last-minute rewrite added this subject to the issues for this year. […]

TRIA Non-Renewal: Effect on Work Comp?

I was greeted this morning with the news that Congress failed to act on the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) before adjourning for the year. This means TRIA will be allowed to expire at the end of the year. This was a big surprise, as most felt the House would be the reason for TRIA’s […]

5 Complex Issues Facing Regulators

The 2014 International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissioners (IAIABC) Annual Conference in Austin offered a forum for regulators from around the country to discuss common issues and potential solutions. At this year’s conference, held Sept. 29  to Oct. 2, regulators highlighted a variety of complex issues that they are currently facing. Top issues […]

The C-Suite View on Employer Costs

An open mic session at the California Workers Comp & Risk Conference in Dana Point featured insurance industry leaders identifying emerging market trends that are important to employers in California. Panelists were: moderator Pamela Ferrandino, national practice leader at Willis North America; Bill Rabl, chief operating officer at ACE Risk Management; Robert Darby, president at […]

Work Comp Outlook for California in 2015

The California Workers’ Compensation & Risk Conference in Dana Point opened with a session featuring employers and stakeholders in the industry weighing in on the current state of California workers’ compensation and the outlook for 2015. Panelists were: moderator Mark Walls, vice president of communications and strategic analysis at Safety National; William Zachry, vice president […]

State of the State: Workers’ Comp in California

On Aug. 5, 2014, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) released its first-ever “State of the System” report. This was an outstanding, in-depth look at the trends and cost drivers in California workers’ compensation. I encourage you to read the full report here. Given that California now constitutes 25% of the total […]

It’s Time to Revisit Payroll Calculations Used in Work Comp

For as long as anyone can remember, the basic method for calculating workers’ compensation premiums is RATE x PAYROLL x EXPERIENCE MOD. Rates vary based on job classification codes (which is much more complicated than it sounds), and the experience mod is based on prior losses. This is how premiums have been calculated for years. […]

The Human Cost of Consolidation in Work Comp Vendors

The last month has seen a continuation of the vendor consolidation that the workers’ compensation industry has been undergoing for the past few years. As most know, a great deal of this consolidation is driven by private equity investors who see all the money flowing through the workers’ compensation industry as a way to achieve […]

TRIA: A Real Need, and the Time Is Now!

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) was initially passed in November 2002 as a response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Private insurance carriers had responded to the attacks by excluding acts of terrorism from coverage, and TRIA was needed to entice private carriers to once again cover this risk. By providing the necessary reinsurance […]

Healthcare Reform’s Effects on Workers’ Compensation

Since its passage in 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — commonly referred to as healthcare reform — has been the subject of intense political debate and a source of anxiety for many employers. Although most employers have focused on the law’s health benefit requirements, the ACA is also expected to affect how they manage their […]

Workers’ Compensation Issues to Watch in 2014

Rates Continue to Climb In most of the U.S., rates for workers’ compensation insurance are continuing to climb, driven by rising medical costs, the low-interest-rate environment and the general unprofitability of the line of business.  This is in spite of the fact that many states have undertaken regulatory reform aimed at controlling medical costs and […]

SB 863 Update: Is the California Workers’ Compensation System Better Than it Was One Year Ago?

The passage of SB 863 in California came with a promise of higher benefits for injured workers and lower costs for employers.  Just over one year later, where does this promise stand?There has been improvement, but there is still a long way to go. I recently attended and spoke at the California Workers’ Compensation & […]

Oklahoma And Beyond: Significant State Workers' Compensation Reforms In 2013

The cost of providing workers’ compensation insurance is one of the top issues for companies of all sizes and across industries. Because it is regulated at the state level, companies need to stay abreast of issues in any state in which they do business. To date in 2013, nine states have seen significant workers’ compensation […]

Employee Concentration Impacting Workers' Compensation Renewals

Workers' compensation continues to be a challenged line, with historically poor results, a benign interest rate environment, and diminished prior year reserve redundancy. Another issue worth noting is the uncertainty around the potential 2014 extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA), which has heightened the focus on aggregation of workers' compensation risk. […]

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