Let’s talk about the impacts of Coronavirus and your workers’ compensation insurance. The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy and cast doubt upon the status of even the most firmly established legal and contractual relationships.
And for businesses and their insurers, the full implications of the virus likely will remain uncertain for months to come.
It’s already clear, though, that if you’re having to hire, fire or reassign workers in response to the crisis, then you need to be paying immediate attention to your workers’ compensation insurance and implementing any necessary changes without delay.
Not only can you save money on your premium by recategorizing or reducing your workforce, but you could also be penalized for miscategorized employees.
The Key Questions You Need to Ask
The following questions are a good starting point:
- Do you have employees working on-premises in, or traveling unavoidably to, locations known to be dealing with a large number of infections (“hotspots”)? And are you, for example, shifting staff from in-house to delivery roles?
- Are changes in employees’ roles or your methods of operation placing them at greater risk than in normal times?
- Are you requiring employees in non-essential roles to come into work when they could reasonably work from home?
Why You Need a Management and Mitigation Plan
If you answer yes to any or all of the above, you should be looking closely at your coverage and taking advice on whether you need to make any changes. And it’s also important that you try to put in place a plan for the management and mitigation of any claims.
In such a fast-moving situation, your plan will necessarily be somewhat speculative, but as far as possible it’s worth trying to anticipate the possible claims scenarios that may arise and to put in place measures to reduce the risk.
Consultation with your management and senior staff will, of course, be vital in helping you prepare a sound plan. But these issues are highly complex and it’s therefore also a good idea to talk with your employment attorney, insurance adviser, and relevant state/county authorities.
Why You Need Expert Advice
As the virus spreads ever more widely, it may be very difficult, for example, for an employee to demonstrate that they contracted the illness while at work or traveling for work purposes.
But in some jurisdictions, it is exposure to risk, rather than the actual event, that triggers workers’ compensation coverage. An employee who self-isolates, and is absent from work because of COVID-19 type symptoms, may be entitled to claim for the period of their quarantine, even if it subsequently transpires that they did not have this particular virus.
News announcements about the national and state response to the coronavirus are appearing by the day – almost, it seems, by the hour – and it’s all but impossible to give definitive, universal guidance about the potential workers’ compensation implications for employers.
So much will depend on the particular type of business and its method of operation.
Talk to Us: Coronavirus and your Workers’ Compensation Insurance
And in these circumstances, it’s more important than ever to get the kind of individually tailored, expert advice that we at Brashears make it our mission to provide.
You can find out more about Coronavirus and your workers’ compensation insurance by calling us on 805-564-7645 or sending us a message here.