3 Critical Workers’ Compensation COVID-19 Questions

Workers Compensation Coronavirus Claims – Will Workers Compensation Insurance Cover These Claims?

Coronavirus has emerged as one of the nation’s greatest challenges, and you can rest assured that ensuing workers compensation coronavirus claims will rock the insurance industry. Experts predict a flood of coronavirus-related workers compensation claims, and premium increases may soon follow. The best time to control your workers compensation premiums is at each fiscal quarter when personnel changes may impact your payroll figures.
This article will cover when workers compensation claims are “compensable” or “accepted” by the insurers. It will also offer a few tips to help you manage your premiums and other personnel-related exposures during this national emergency.

When is a Workers Compensation Coronavirus Claim Compensable?

A carrier accepts an illness-related workers compensation claim when the claim meets two conditions.
1. The illness must “arise out of the course and scope of employment.”
2. The cause of the illness must be a condition peculiar to that workplace and not a disease of life, like a cold, to which everyone is exposed.
COVID-19 will be widespread, and the greater the spread, the less insurers will be inclined to find the typical employee at greater risk than the general public. Clearly, first responders of all types and caregivers, such as doctors and nurses and nurse aids, will no doubt find coverage for their illness.
For other essential workers, however, the path to compensability will be less clear. Service workers, such as plumbers who work with pathogenic materials like sewage, will no doubt have their claims accepted. Workers compensation insurers are scrambling to develop investigative templates that will help them determine compensability on a case-by-case basis.
Workers compensation laws are state specific. Some jurisdictions may pass laws that offer coverage under certain conditions. Several states, including Louisiana, will soon consider bills that make the COVID-19 a covered workers compensation illness for all essential workers.

What to Do If Your Employee Becomes Ill with COVID-19

If your employee, such as a cashier, becomes ill with coronavirus, don’t make the mistake of refusing to submit a claim to your workers compensation carrier. Even if you disagree with the claim’s validity, it is your employee’s right to file a workers compensation claim if he or she feels the injury or illness resulted from employment.
Once you’ve submitted the claim to your insurer, assure your employee that the insurer will do their best to find coverage for the employee, if it’s in order.
Never tell your workers that, if infected, “You will have coverage.” Only the carrier can make that decision. An Arizona plumbing company recently held a COVID-19 meeting and this issue arose. One of the plumbers asked, “If we get sick, are we covered?” The owner responded by saying, “While I can’t tell you for certain, I can say that your work with sewage would probably make it a covered claim. But it’s up to the insurer to decide.” This gave the employees some confidence to continue their daily routines.
Do not waive any of your rights to later allow the insurer to deny the claim. Also, be sure that you do not give your workers false confidence that the carrier will accept and handle their coronavirus claims if they get ill. Telling an employee, “I don’t know, but I’ll check and get back to you,” is often the best way to handle these important issues. In these times, your internal risk management expertise and good advice from your broker or insurance carrier can help. Call us if you have questions or we can help in any way.

The Centers for Disease Control offer employer guidelines for COVID-19 employment issues here.

Layoffs and Reductions in Force May Lower Your Estimated Workers Compensation Premiums
Is COVID-19 causing reductions in your workforce? Are you expecting savings at your end-of-year workers compensation audit? You could qualify for those savings now. First, ask yourself these questions. Do you have fewer workers compared to last year? Did you outsource any services this year instead of using your own workers? What if any differences can you find in your payroll figures over the past few quarters? Is your payroll lower from reductions in force?
If so, make a date with your insurance broker to review your payroll numbers. Also, examine the class codes of your workers. Lower payroll and fewer class codes equal lower workers compensation costs. If you qualify, don’t wait until year’s end to realize those savings.

Consider Employment Practices Liability Insurance

When employers face layoffs or other job cuts, employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) can provide several benefits. EPLI offers protection against employment decisions such as reductions in force. Many EPLI carriers also offer a helpline and other resources so you aren’t making difficult employment decisions without expert advice. If you don’t currently have this coverage, call us for a no-obligation quote. EPLI insurance can help business owners navigate choppy waters like those currently facing the nation.
Reach out to us if you have questions, please contact info@fidens.com

Cyber Fraud Booming During COVID-19

Cyber Risks Grow as Employees Work from Home After COVID-19

Small to medium-sized companies are increasingly the target of sophisticated social engineering hacks and other types of cyber threats. What does a social engineering cyberattack entail? Wikipedia defines social engineering hacks as follows. “Social engineering, in the context of information security, is the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.”
According to cnet, an electronics-centric website, recent attacks focus on attempting to get readers to click on links related to information about the coronavirus. With many people now working from home, some with access to their business’s confidential data, hackers are targeting this new trove of users. Is your cyber insurance coverage robust enough to meet the coverage challenges of these unique risks?

From Fake Netflix Scams to Phishing Attacks, Cyber Risks Escalate

Users with access to business data are a valuable target for hackers. Most phishing attempts take place by email. Using fake Netflix sites and other questionable tactics, scammers use home quarantine and its accompanying boredom to target isolated at-home users. Additionally, general information in emails regarding COVID-19 or charitable donations related to the coronavirus have appeared across the nation.
Scammers developed these sites to lure users to enter payment and other personal information. In some instances, this personal information release resulted in business hacks when users duplicated their social media personal passwords with business passwords. It’s important your employees understand this risk. One of the best ways to protect your business from cyber-attacks is to institute a policy that requires employees to change their passwords regularly, or on a set schedule. Caution them not to use social media passwords in business, as well.
Taking home laptops loaded with company and employee data and logging into corporate websites can pose significant risks for business owners. Many business users regularly log into public Wi-Fi hotspots, which can create a runway into your business data.
With the coronavirus changing the way employees work, we may find businesses relying on work-from-home for the foreseeable, even long-term, future. Now is the time to take a few steps to strengthen your cyber awareness.
Best Practices Information Technology Tips for Today’s Businesses
Your cyber insurer may offer some tips to help you manage your information technology. However, Lewis and Brisbois[N1] , a provider of cyber legal training and cyber-response teams, offers a few best practices in cyber management.
Appoint a cyber management team with a senior officer to lead. However, your information technology (IT) team members should be at the forefront. Include representatives from other key departments, such as public relations, finance and risk management. If you’re hacked, you’ll need to make rapid decisions. Appoint those who have enough authority to make decisions and who are not afraid to make tough decisions. For example, if you’re hit with ransomware, will you pay? That decision is an agonizing one for businesses.
Create a cyber action plan. Ensure your cyber team creates a detailed cyber plan. However, don’t make it so complex it will sit on a shelf. List those people responsible for which tasks and keep that list updated. Practice by working through different “what if” scenarios to prepare your team in the event you experience a cyberattack.
Determine the firms that can help in case you face an attack. This should include your cyber insurer, legal counsel, public relations firms, local law enforcement or the FBI, as well as IT vendors who can bolster your internal IT force if needed.
Stay current on emerging threats. Historically, businesses faced infiltration of viruses and malicious coding. Social engineering hackers are at the forefront of cyber threats today and have hurried to exploit the work-from-home movement. Hackers continue to grow in sophistication. Invest in training for your IT and cyber team and ensure that information flows back to the organization with frequent updates.
Develop a strong training program. Due to COVID-19, social engineering hacks top the list of today’s cyber threats. Keep employees updated on password importance, common cyber tricks and other attempts they may face as they manage their in-home work. Warn employees about the emerging threats from email and other scams faced by many users arising after the COVID-19 epidemic.

Cyber Insurance Coverage Problematic for Small-to-Midsize Businesses

Perhaps you have endorsed some level of cyber coverage on your businessowners policy (BOP). Cyber coverage under your BOP, however, is extremely limited. Generally, the BOP provides only third-party coverage in the event you experience a hack that damages others. Coverage for first-party costs, such as business interruption losses you experience or public relations costs you may incur for damage control, can help provide much-needed insurance assistance post-hack.
We can help you tailor cyber insurance coverage that can help you meet the challenges of today’s increasingly sophisticated hacks.