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Are You Using These Five Words When You Talk About Workers’ Comp?

Monday, May 5, 2014
Written By
Kory Wells

The right words are like the right tools – they make a huge difference in getting the job done. That’s the point of  The 5 Most Persuasive Words in the English Language – a December 2012 article by Gregory Ciotti that attracted a lot of attention in the business world, especially among marketing and communications professionals.

Citing several intriguing studies, Ciotti suggests that the following words are especially effective when used in ways that make sense for your audience and context:


The 5 Most Persuasive Words in the English Language

  1. You
  2. Free
  3. Because
  4. Instantly
  5. Now

As some of you know, I’m often reading, writing or performing poetry when I’m not analyzing experience mods. As a poet, I’m an ardent believer in both the power and the subtleties of language. This, I suppose, is why Ciotti’s article has stayed with me – and why I’m compelled to contemplate this:

As insurance professionals, how can we best use these words to effectively communicate with employers about workers’ compensation insurance and issues?

The possibilities are myriad, and there are no wrong answers. Some of the following are focused on education, and some are focused on “hooking” employers in a conversation. Some are dependent on a mod worksheet analysis or educational resource that you can (shameless self-promotion alert) deliver with a Zywave tool such as ModMaster or Broker Briefcase P&C Edition. Some will seem repetitive, but having communicated about experience rating for almost 20 years now, I can say with authority that you can’t repeat yourself too much, because the message doesn’t get through instantly – plus, there’s always someone new coming along who needs to hear it! (I could’ve included free in the previous sentence, but it would’ve been over the top, don’t you think? On to business…)


Ciotti cites research which shows that hearing your own name, as well as the word “you,” activates the brain. I’m assuming that reading or hearing your company name is an important trigger, too.

  • Are you shopping for the low bid on your work comp premium? Has anyone shown you how low your experience mod and premium can be when you control and eventually eliminate losses?
  • Do you know that you have the ability to influence your workers’ comp premium?
  • Do you know that every loss you have costs you in terms of experience mod points – and premium?
  • Do you present return to work as part of [company name’s] benefits program?
  • Does [company name] have a culture of safety? Would your employees answer that question in the same way you do?


The most organic uses of the word “free” that I can think of in workers’ comp appear in the terms loss-free rating and an accident-free workplace. However, the idea of earning an employer’s business by offering a free mod analysis merits mentioning, too.

  • Are you familiar with the term loss-free rating, or minimum mod?
  • Do you know what your loss-free rating, or minimum mod, is?
  • Does your culture embrace the idea of an accident-free workplace? Do you know what impact this can have on both costs and morale?
  • There is no free lunch, and there are no free losses. Workers’ comp insurance is unique in that every loss impacts your premium calculation – for three years!
  • Can I present you with a free analysis of your mod worksheet?


I could write all day on this one:

  • Many employers are happy with a mod of 1.0 because they don’t know a 1.0 is only average.
  • Many employers are happy with any mod under 1.0 because they don’t know how good their mod can be.
  • Do you realize that return to work and transitional duty are critical because of their significance to [company name’s] financial costs – and to your injured employee’s psychological well-being?
  • It’s crucial to keep losses medical-only because they are reduced by 70% on your workers’ comp experience mod. (See the ERA states here)
  • Are you aware that you have the power to control your workers’ comp costs because your premium is based on your individual loss experience?
  • I can see that [company name] has a safety issue because of the loss frequency ratio shown in my analysis of your worksheet.
  • I can see that [company name] has a return to work or injury management issue because of the loss severity ratio shown in my analysis of your worksheet.


Ciotti points out that similar words are also effective, such as “immediately” and “fast.” So use the speedy phrase of your choice.

  • If you can show me your most recent experience rating worksheet, I can instantly tell you how you compare to your competitors in this industry.
  • If you can show me your most recent experience rating worksheet, I can almost instantly tell you how much improvement you can make on your mod – and premium – by controlling losses.
  • If you can show me your most recent experience rating worksheet, I can very quickly tell if you have a loss frequency problem, a loss severity problem, or both.


Although experience rating changes like the 2013 split point increase are relatively rare, it seems there’s always something going on with various states’ legislation, OSHA rules, news from various workers compensation blogs and conferences, and more. Here are a few standards that should apply to experience rating in any year:

  • Do you have an idea of what your new mod and premium will be in the next policy year?
  • Can I show you how the new rating values affected your mod?
  • Can I show you how your new losses are likely to affect your mod?

It would also be great to ask questions like these and then deliver a related resource (available in Broker Briefcase):

  • Are you aware of the new OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping requirements for temporary workers?
  • Are you aware of the new OSHA revisions to health and safety standards for the electric power industry?
  • I see there are a lot of laptops in use here at [company name]. Our new safety newsletter talks about laptop strain. Can I email you a copy?


Maybe your prospecting or retention could use a boost. Maybe, like me, you’re committed to workers’ compensation education. Regardless of your motivation, remember these 5 words in your next workers’ comp conversation. Workers’ comp is a wide world, and I’m sure you have your own ideas as well. Try them out, and let us know what happens – your fellow WorkCompEdge readers and I would love to hear from you!

– Kory Wells, WorkCompEdge Blog Editor
© 2014 Zywave, Inc.  All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact the blog editor.

Read more:

On LifeHacker:  The Psychology of Language: Why Are Some Words More Persuasive Than Others?

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