COVID-19 Breaking Down the Game
Posted by: Michelle Etzkorn & Melva Lowry on Monday, March 30th 2020
The Offense & Defense: Workers Compensation:
By Michelle Etzkorn, CIC - Commercial Insurance Business Unit Leader
Offense: The classification of your employees may very well change to survive the “shelter in place” and “social distancing” restrictions that require a business model change. For example your office worker or clerical employee is all of a sudden pinch hitting as a delivery person...the current class codes on your workers compensation policies may need to be amended. Another example - your manufacturing process may include an exposure that has not been considered in the past because you are manufacturing an alternative product now. Additionally, your payrolls that were projected for a normal revenue year may need to be adjusted to accommodate lower staffing levels. Don’t let a curve ball change it all – remember your policy period did have some regular business months so you don’t want to trim your payroll too much! End of the policy period audit will catch all the changes, but if you want to prevent either increased premium due to potential class code changes or huge payroll swings you can certainly make midterm adjustments to your lineup.
Defense: Continue to make the position and game changes to accommodate the restrictions and safety of your employees. If perhaps an employee contracts Covid 19 during the normal course and scope of his or her employment, carriers are indicative that the claim will be compensable.
Extra Innings: Employee Benefits:
By Melva Lowry, VP of Employee Benefits
You may feel as if you need extra innings to figure out how to address employee benefits or how benefit coverage is impacted with these needed business changes you could face, as well as the government responses to COVID-19 coming at you.
Changing job duties, job classifications, reduction in hours, remote work arrangements, possible furloughs or lay-off, or employees’ absent from work due to COVID-19 - all can affect an employees’ current benefit program, eligibility for coverage or level of coverage.
A base hit may be insurance carriers responding by waiving deductibles and co-pays for COVID-19 testing, allowing special enrollment periods for health insurance, relaxing language linked to ‘actively at work’ definition for life and disability or possibly extending grace periods for premium payment.
In addition, Congress has passed several laws in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, including the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. This requires some employers (those with fewer than 500 employees) to provide leave to certain employees affected by the coronavirus. These, at initial face, seem like a foul ball for a small business but, catch this, employers can receive tax credits equal to the required leave wages paid.