We spend a lot of time in the workers’ compensation industry griping about jurisdictional forms. They are often complex, and some are poorly designed with fields too small to accommodate the information they demand. The biggest issue, for many people, is that no two forms are alike, even though they may require the same information across different jurisdictions.

There is an effort underway, borne of a recent meeting at the SAWCA All Committee Conference in Colorado Springs, by several states to see if they can develop a common FROI, or First Report of Injury. I think it is sheer heresy, and a severely misguided move. 

I don’t just say that because my company sells products that leverage this jurisdictional form-based complexity. It’s not because we have a service that continually updates and programs over 3,700 workers’ compensation forms for companies that otherwise struggle to maintain compliance in this area. It’s not because we have an auto-population system that can embed data from any claims system into more than 1,200 of those forms. It’s not because we provide digital posting notices and documents via a “Virtual Claims Kit” for over half of the nation’s largest insurance companies. No, I say it is misguided because, if they are successful in generating a single common form that simplifies the claims process, the earth will fall off its axis, spin out of control and we will all die in an unbelievably powerful conflagration. 

You see, I’m only thinking of you. Plus, I like to use the word conflagration. But I digress…..

For all of our industry’s complaints around the area of form compliance, they probably pale to the issue experienced by a 70-year-old grandfather from Scotland. He was recently denied entrance to the United States on a holiday trip because he accidentally checked the “yes” box for the question, “Are you a terrorist?” on his visa application. He had been completing the application online and encountered numerous technical problems that he suspects led to the error. He and his wife were supposed to travel to New York City on December 3rd.

Perhaps coincidentally, he is also the first person in history ever to answer that question in the affirmative.

This hapless Grandpa, whose only prior dealings with the law involved serving on a jury, is now a terrorist in the eyes of the US government. Despite his efforts to clarify the incident and clear his name, officials would not budge. They simply told him his visa was refused “because he was a terrorist.” 

I’m sure glad they have that question on a form to protect us all. If only it had been there prior to 9/11; countless lives would have been saved. All those guys from Saudi Arabia and the middle east would’ve been stopped in their tracks after answering “yes” to that question. 

It is possible that you’ve detected just a tinge of sarcasm in my tone. I suppose I am not doing a very good job of hiding my contempt. Seriously, why is that question even on the form? Who in hell has ever answered yes? Even if some who have terroristic intent answer honestly, I guarantee we are only catching the dumbest and most ineffective ones around. It is quite possible that the presence of this question on a visa application form is guaranteeing that we are catching no one but morons and technology challenged Septuagenarians. 

If you ask a stupid question, you have no right to expect anything but comparable results in the answer. The man, who purchased non-refundable tickets and cannot reschedule his trip due to all the uncertainty, must now travel to London and meet with US officials at our embassy. Hopefully they will realize this has all been a simple mistake and help clear his name. Either that, or they will believe a terrorist has entered the compound and will waterboard him for critical information. We can’t be too sure on which path they will choose. These are the same people, after all, that put the stupid question “Are you a terrorist?” on to a visa application.

Meanwhile, I have some advice for the jurisdictions trying to develop that common FROI. Make sure the question “Are you a terrorist?” is added to the form. It won’t help us with national security, but sure could provide a good indication of which direction that particular claim is likely headed. 

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