After UFDS has outsourced claims handling and policy management to Sedgwick Denmark (SDK), we have gained more muscle to take care of the dialogue with both injured parties and shipping companies. Meet the new people in the article here.
In the spring of 2022, the Danish Shipowners’ Accident Insurance Association (UFDS) announced the decision that after having handled the statutory workers' compensation insurance for employees on board ships in the Danish merchant fleet for a total of 120 years, we had chosen to outsource the core business.
All tasks related to claims and policy handling were placed with Denmark's largest company within the treatment of workplace injuries, Sedgwick Denmark. A key reason was the increasing complexity of the handling of workers' compensation cases and the associated legal regulations.
In letting Sedgwick Denmark take over these important tasks, we have achieved a sturdier framework and rigid systems in a larger set-up with more people to handle the ever increaing compliance requirements facing modern insurance operations.
Since then, more staff have been continuously added to the UFDS team, which already consisted of CEO Jacob Munch, health professional consultant Benedikte Hertel, whom you can meet here, lawyer Frederik Nielsen, case worker Tina Christensen and social worker Luise Hougaard.
In this article, you can meet a small handful of the people that have joined the team recently.
In the proactive team, Sedgwick Care, we find Maria Dorph-Petersen, who started in SDK September 1, 2023. She is a trained nurse, and has worked as such for 22 years, building a broad experience primarily in the somatic field, both in hospitals, nursing homes and in home care.
In addition, Maria has a management education and management experience from her time in the municipalities, and is also a skilled acupuncturist, just as she is almost finished as a psychotherapist.
Maria handles direct dialogue with the injured party, primarily Danish sailors, via phone and email. She also administers case screening determining when to contact the injured party allowing them to get through a process in the best (and fastest) way possible.
»I can pretty quickly spot where we are in a given situation and what I need to present. I can meet the individual at eye level and have some broad competencies to see what kind of person we have at the other end,« Maria Dorph-Petersen says.
»Sustaining an injury has a pretty big impact on people's lives. One thing is the physical pain, quite another is having to deal with the fact that life – at least for a while – looks different. And people respond to that very differently,« she adds.
Maria and her team colleagues are very aware of how a case can develop. Thus, new information may come to light, and the injured party might not be able to cope with as much as initially expected in relation to returning to work.
As part of the Treatment Team, Berit Taxgaard handles the first inquiries from the injured party (not only under the auspices of UFDS, but also from other customers), just as she is involved in the policy work, collaborates with the shipping companies on on-account dispatches and annual statements as well as entries and announcements.
Berit is a trained office assistant and has been part of the UFDS team since the summer of 2022, after joining SDK in August 2021 with experience from insurance agency Alm. Brand among others.
»As of now, attending to UFDS matters only fills up one day of my week, but it fluctuates, and generally it's some really exciting tasks to be a part of,« Berit Taxgaard says.
On 1 February 2023, Mette Lux started in Sedgwick Denmark, primarily as a workers' compensation handler in the Loss of Earning Capacity Team, after which she was attached to the UFDS a few months later, now acting as a claims handler, having been a specialist in the field for a number of years.
Mette has worked with occupational injuries since 2006 and serves as team leader for the four employees in the Insurance Team, which UFDS belongs to after a recent organizational change, and is now responsible for the operation of the companies that have placed their operations with SDK. Mette is also team leader for the Treatment Team, which is responsible for granting and advising on treatments.
»It works really well, and you get a good knowledge of the substance because you get insight into many cases. UFDS is by far the most important part of my everyday work, and there are many exciting cases,« she says and continues:
»Now we have chosen to gather all insurance companies in one unit, so that we can better facilitate our customers and meet their needs and requirements for what we need to deliver. We have a lot of focus on the proactive part, especially in relation to UFDS, and that is also what I stand for after almost 25 years in the insurance industry.«
One of the most important things in Mette's work is to spot the cases where it would make sense to take action to move forward, because the injured party is losing his or her foothold in the labour market and thus the ability to get back to sea as expected.
To this end, the injured party can easily feel alone bereft of prior experience of dealing with such a case, as Mette Lux points out. Listening to their grievances is therefore essential to let them know that they are in good and safe hands.
»We can easily give the injured party a call if we sense that a mental challenge is underway, and then make sure that the case is investigated, if this is not already taking place. Often, we can catch events as they unfold,« she explains and adds:
»When we have a workers' compensation case, the injured person is kinda stuck in the middle of it all, surrounded by lots of actors targeting his or her best. It can be the AES, it can be lawyers, it can be federations, doctors, physiotherapists. But if they fail to work together and there is no coordinator on the matter, then they will not succeed. Luise is great at navigating that.«
High professional level saves millions for customers
One thing the Insurance Team often encounters is the widespread frustration from injured parties over the long processing time at AES, which according to CEO Jacob Munch has been a 'huge problem for several years'.
However, the hope is that the new workers' compensation reform, scheduled to be ready in 2024, will alleviate the problems. For example, it is envisaged that specialists when taking on a case are given three months to assess an injured party or accept a fine if the time frame slips.
SDK aims to be proactive in speeding up processes. Occasionally the Insurance Team will retrieve the municipal documents on their own accord, or they can urge the AES to expedite matters sooner than originally planned.
The insurance team are not the decisions makers in this regard, but rather serves by assessing whether the various decisions are legally correct. On this basis, the team appeals a number of decisions to the AES, from where they may be forwarded to the Danish Appeals Board.
The insurance team in Sedgwick Denmark has a high professional standard, saving customers many millions on appeals won. The principle is always that "right must be right", ensuring that the injured party receives exactly the correct compensation based on the circumstances, and that is what the team is aiming for.
Many injured parties suffer from psychological problems after an industrial injury, and one of the reasons is the uncertainty that comes with not knowing whether they have been bought or sold in terms of compensation, and people are severely challenged financially. The Insurance Team sees these types of mental challenges very often.
In addition to this, the Insurance Team has an important interaction with Sedgwick Care, allowing them to forward a case and possibly involve Luise Hougaard. In this regard, the team points out how important it is to be able to intervene before the injury develops (physically and/or mentally) so that one can limit the loss of earning capacity for the benefit of both the shipping company and the injured party.