Brand story – How a not-for-profit workers’ compensation insurance company is supporting businesses and keeping workers safe during challenging times.
Chip Terhune, CEO of SAIF, wants Oregon employers to know that workers’ comp is more than an insurance policy for when things go wrong — it’s about preventing accidents before they happen. Taking a proactive approach to workers’ safety and wellbeing keeps insurance rates low and businesses stable in uncertain times. But businesses don’t have to do it alone — they can contact their insurance agent or provider for assistance.
“SAIF can help make the incredibly complex and challenging work of running and growing a business simpler,” says Terhune.
The not-for-profit, state-chartered company insures more than half of Oregon businesses. For more than 100 years, SAIF has been striving to make Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work by helping to reduce workplace injuries and maintain low rates.
That holds true even after the financial tumult of the pandemic. Terhune, who joined the company in July 2021 after holding both private- and public-sector leadership roles, oversaw a $210 million dividend to policyholders in his first month. Now, he sees businesses facing more challenges with labor shortages, inflation, and the lingering pandemic. He hopes to help ease the pressure by sharing best practices to save money on worker’s comp insurance.
Chip Terhune, CEO, SAIF
Tip 1: Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
Terhune says many injuries SAIF is seeing now relate to the tight labor market. Businesses may need to hire workers without a background in their assigned job duties and lack the resources to train them. Workers may be asked to do more to make up for smaller or less skilled crews. “That can put real additional physical strain on some of those workers who are attempting to fill that gap,” he says. “You can see situations where work-related injuries begin to materialize.”
SAIF safety consultants offer advice and training and visit workplaces to identify areas of concern. “Having someone come into a workspace with fresh eyes can be tremendously helpful,” says Terhune.
The company also leads safety programs that focus on education—including agricultural safety seminars across the state, returning in-person this year—and offers free safety resources on their website such as trainings, posters, and videos. “It’s about creating and supporting a safety-first culture,” says Terhune. “Taking the time to improve workplace safety can pay tremendous dividends for businesses of all sizes and across industries.”
Tip 2: Manage claims effectively
When a workplace injury or illness occurs, filing the claim correctly and within the legally required five days will ensure the worker gets immediate care and returns to work quickly, which has a direct effect on business costs.
There are also services like the state’s EAIP (Employer-at-Injury Program) that provide financial incentives and wage reimbursement for businesses to help their injured workers return to transitional work while they’re recovering. “When a worker is injured and their employer steps in alongside SAIF to make sure that individual gets what they need and is supported along the way, it’s amazing the kind of positive cultural impact that can have,” Terhune says.
Tip 3: Use the right class codes
Payroll reports may not be glamorous, but the class codes on those reports are how SAIF calculates premium rates. And with more than 550 class codes in the system, it’s easy to accidentally assign the wrong code to a business — which could lead to paying more for your premium. “Making sure the premium is accurate from the beginning means that things go smoothly,” says Terhune. “Businesses need help understanding how to do it, and we have experts standing by ready to help.”
Terhune says that businesses who embrace these practices will lower costs—but it’s not just about the bottom line. “Focusing on safety and helping employees access benefits quickly are good for employee morale and retention,” says Terhune. “Policyholders don’t have to wait to reach out to our safety experts. We can study their operations and make suggestions that will improve their safety culture and help prevent injuries.”
Brand stories are paid content articles that allow Oregon Business advertisers to share news about their organizations and engage with readers on business and public policy issues. The stories are produced in house by the Oregon Business marketing department. For more information, contact associate publisher Courtney Kutzman.