As summer progresses, vacation plans move forward, and we all become more interactive with the world at large, I encourage everyone to be mindful of the presence of COVID-19 and its variants. Please get vaccinated if you have not done so to date. If you know someone who has not been vaccinated, encourage them to do so, if not for themselves, for those they care about.
With regard to COVID-19 and workers’ compensation, we now have more than a year of COVID workers’ compensation data to shed light on COVID and its effect on the workers’ compensation system. Using both Florida and California data (the most complete), we see COVID claims spiking in July of 2020 and again during the 2020 holiday season from November through January. That said, the total number of indemnity claims for 2020, when compared to total indemnity claims during 2019, remains below the 2019 total. Additionally, the indemnity cost for 95% of COVID claims remains less than $5,000.00.
In response to the epidemic, the current tally of states that have implemented COVID presumptions of some kind is twenty (20). Of the twenty states with a presumption of some kind, twelve states provide presumptions for emergency workers only. The remaining states presumptions cover more than just emergency workers and/or carry special provisions for those covered.
Not surprisingly, thirty-one percent (31%) of COVID claims filed in California fall within the healthcare field, followed by public safety (17%) and “other” industry sectors (22%). This allocation is probably consistent across the country.
At the beginning of the pandemic many were concerned the pandemic would have an adverse impact on the workers’ compensation insurance industry. Fortunately, that did not happen. The percent of premiums held as operating gains by insurers has remained strong throughout the pandemic. In 2019 the industry as a whole held twenty-five percent (25%) of premiums as operating gains, whereas in 2020 the percentage only fell one percent to twenty-four percent (24%). This, combined with the continuation of a remarkable bull market, has led to robust profits for the workers’ compensation insurance sector of the insurance industry during the pandemic.
As we all know, a healthy and profitable workers’ compensation insurance industry decreases substantially anti-worker legislation being proposed by industry and carriers.
Again, please get vaccinated if you have not. Please encourage friends, family, members of your firm, and your employees to get vaccinated. Only when we achieve vaccination numbers needed to eradicate the COVID-19 virus and its variants will we be free of the COVID plague.
Mr. Malcolm M. Crosland Jr. Esq., President
The Steinberg Law Firm, L.L.P.
61 Broad Street
Charleston SC 29402