Workers Compensation: COVID19 = Game Changer!

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With COVID19 taking a toll on many of the nation's essential workers while others are sidelined, expect to see changes in workers compensation. Jon Coppelman offers a rundown of some of the proposed policy changes that are in the works.
workers compensation: grocery workers with face masks moving crates

The COVID19 virus is changing virtually everything, including workers compensation. The National Commission on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) is contemplating significant policy shifts that would dramatically alter basic comp procedures.

Here is a quick take on some of the proposed policy changes:

  • Pay without work: some employers are continuing to pay workers who are not working. These employees will be moved to the 0012 class and no premiums will be attached to the payroll.

NOTE: This reclassification will be retroactive to March 1 or the actual stop-work date, if later. Also, Massachusetts is not an NCCI state, but appears likely to follow the NCCI model.

  • Experience Rating: The cost of claims related to the COVID19 virus will not be included in experience rating.

NOTE: It is unclear how the cost of these claims will be covered. It seems likely that some form of government support will be needed.

  • Presumptive Coverage: There is a movement in some states to expand comp benefits to all “essential workers” by providing “presumed coverage” not only to front-line health workers but also to grocery staff, delivery drivers, sanitation workers, etc.

NOTE: In our prior blog –  COVID19: Workers Compensation and Coronavirus Conundrums – we outlined the obstacles in securing workers comp benefits for COVID19 exposures. However, the movement toward presumptive coverage would change this. Presumption has historically been used almost exclusively for police and fire fighters, whose illnesses are presumed to be work related, unless proven otherwise. If coverage is expanded under COVID19, the number and cost of claims will skyrocket. This will be a state-by state issue.

  • Cancellation for non-payment: Some states are looking to revise current standards to create more flexibility when dealing with non-payments.
  • Limited access to medical treatment: As long as the focus of our health care system remains on treating COVID19 illnesses, other medical services impacting injuries at work will be severely limited (e.g./ physical rehab/therapy, MRIs for strains and sprains).

The details in these major policy shifts are not yet final and the actual changes will vary from state to state. If you would like more detail on NCCI’s current approach, visit the NCCI website, specifically the section on COVID19.

Please call with any questions regarding these and other related issues, including questions that may arise from your policy holders.

Jon Coppelman
Senior Workers Compensation Consultant
(508) 769-9850

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