Coronavirus & Your Insurance Policy Questions Answered
How ERM is supporting and protecting their employees and clients:
We have had some employees working remotely for some time and have expanded that to many others. We will try to reduce the personal visits to a minimum for both your protection and ours until things return to normal. We continue to operate at 100% and are ready to assist you in these trying times as much as possible.
If you have any questions please email or call us today, we are here to assist you.
We have been receiving a lot of questions from clients and notifications from insurance carriers and we thought we would summarize some of the issues for you. Still looking for answers or help? Check the resources at the bottom of the page.
What if an Employee Gets Sick?
We have also had questions about whether Workers Compensation covers an employee who contracts the Coronavirus or whether your General Liability policy covers claims that your employees gave the illness to someone else. The answer to these questions is yes, both policies would cover those situations if it can be established that your operations were the cause. In most cases that will be very difficult to prove so we expect very few such claims, but it is possible.
Insurance Premium Payments
Many of the insurance carriers have announced that they will hold off on non-payment cancellations for some period. Others have stated that they are open to endorsing the policies to reflect reduced sales or payrolls thereby reducing premiums. If you are on a pay as you go program for WC your premiums will automatically drop as your payrolls are reduced. For everyone else please let us know if you would like to request a reduction.
There is not likely any coverage available under the Business Income coverage for shutdowns or reductions in revenue due to the virus. The coverage requires a physical loss to the property such as fire, wind, theft, etc.to cover any loss of income. Additionally, almost all policies contain a specific exclusion for losses related to virus.
In general Workers Compensation does not cover ordinary illnesses such as colds or flus, but there may be coverage for employees who contract the virus if it can be proven that the exposure was from their employment. This will be an easier argument for those in healthcare or public safety but might be covered if the source was a customer, patient, etc. The government is trying to trace the sources of exposure and this might support a WC claim. Due to all of the layoffs and furloughs, we expect to see a rise in the amount of insurance claims.
Between the illness, the layoffs, and the economic slowdown we do expect to see an increase in Workers Compensation claims. Terminated employees tend to remember injuries that they had previously “forgotten”. If you need help reporting or dealing with these please let us know.
Likewise we anticipate an increase in claims for wrongful termination, harassment, and wage and hour claims (overtime, breaks, etc.). Many of these are retaliatory so try to be as understanding and helpful as possible when laying off people. Help them with their unemployment claims, references, letters of recommendation, or any other way you can. If you do not have an Employment Practices Liability Policy (EPLI) it may be too late to get coverage for people that you have already laid off but you should consider coverage anyway. California is a very employer unfriendly state and many of the recent changes in the law make claims even more likely.
Can I Reduce my Sales and Payroll in my Premium?
If you would like to reduce the estimated sales or payrolls upon which your current policies are based please let us know, particularly if you are on a fixed monthly payment Workers Compensation policy. The insurance carriers are very open to these adjustments or even to converting fixed payment WC policies to monthly reporting mid-term.
You could be liable if you negligently spread the virus to others and this would probably be covered under a GL policy. The issues are similar to the WC discussion, proving from whom the disease was contracted.
The US Government is passing laws to extend loans and expand leave programs to cover businesses and employees who suffer financially from the impact of the virus. California will likely be taking steps to assist also. We expect unemployment insurance claims to spike as well.
The insurance companies are accepting and continuing to process claims although claims that require an inspection by an adjuster may be slowed. Many carriers are already settling many claims remotely using photos and that will likely increase so that any slowdown in claim handling is minimized.