Background: Regaining good health and returning to work are important for people injured in road traffic crashes and for society. The handling of claims by insurance companies may play an important role in the rate at which health recovers and return to work is actually attained.
Methods: A novel approach towards claims handling for people injured in road traffic accidents was compared to the standard approach. The setting was a large insurance company (NRMA Insurance) in the state of New South Wales, Australia. The new approach involved communicating effectively with injured people, early intervention, screening for adverse prognostic factors and focusing on early return to work and usual activities. Demographic and injury data, health outcomes, return to work and usual activities were collected at baseline and 7 months post-injury.
Results: Significant differences were found 7 months post-injury on 'caseness' of depression (p = 0.04), perceived health limitation on activities (p = 0.03), and self-reported return to usual activities (p = 0.01) with the intervention group scoring better. Baseline general health was a significant predictor for general health at 7 months (OR 11.6, 95% CI 2.7-49.4) and for return to usual activities (OR 4.6, 95% CI 2.3-9.3).
Conclusion: We found a few positive effects on health from a new claims handling method by a large insurance company. It may be most effective to target people who report low general health and low expectations for their health recovery when they file their claim.