Workers Compensation Adventures from the Last Frontier, part 1: Remote Site Claims Handling at its Best

Editor's note: This is the first entry in a four-part series about Crawford & Company’s claims adjusting work in Alaska submitted by Rose Etheridge, senior claims examiner for Broadspire® in Anchorage, Alaska. 

Neighborhood moose during Halloween 2012, eating our fall decorations.

Neighborhood moose during Halloween 2012, eating our fall decorations.

You’ve probably turned on the television and seen one of the many reality shows based on life in Alaska, but did you know that Crawford has an office in Alaska? Our office has two adjusters (myself and Tina Arnold) and the backbone of our team is Linda Hoehne who is much more than a claims assistant. What makes Alaska so unique and sometimes stranger than fiction on today’s reality shows also makes it an interesting place to handle workers compensation claims. We decided it would be fun to share some of our more unusual Alaskana claims with the rest of the world, and would love to hear of any state-specific stories you may have as well.

Neighborhood moose during Halloween 2012, eating our fall decorations.

A little background

Our office is in Anchorage, Alaska (population: 298,842) surrounded by the Chugach Range. Although we are right in the heart of town, it isn’t out of the ordinary to have a mama moose and her babies walking across the parking lot, or Canada geese and their goslings hanging out near the front door. While Tina and Linda are both transplants (or as we Alaskans like to call them, Cheechakos) they have both fallen in love with the juxtaposition of being in a big city but being in the wilderness at the same time. As a fourth-generation Alaskan, I am still surprised and awed by the amazing beauty we are surrounded by.

Claims handling in Alaska is never dull. We have clients whose job sites are on the North Slope, thousands of miles away from the nearest real airport, and other sites that only have bush plane service once a week. Did you know our state capital is the ONLY state capital in the nation that is not accessible by road? Logistically, transportation can be a pretty big challenge. Not only do we have remote work sites, but also a good portion of the covered employees work in the state but actually live down south (or as we like to call it, The Lower 48).

Culturally, Alaska is also one of the most diverse states per capita. The Alaska Native population makes up a large portion of local employment for remote sites, and it is not out of the ordinary to have a claimant who speaks very little English but is fluent in Yupik or Athabaskan.

While it’s easy to point out the jurisdictional differences between states, it often amazes me how similar many of our experiences are, although of course we all know that sometimes the differences make for the best stories.

My hope is that I can bring a little humor along with some interesting lessons that we have learned here in the 49th state to all of our readers. I look forward to sharing the ups and downs of Alaska workers compensation with all of you. And if you are ever in our neck of the woods, please let us know. We’d love to say hello!

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