What you need to know about the impact of COVID-19 on your workers compensation program

What you need to know about the impact of COVID-19 on your workers compensation program

It’s hard to overstate the impact of COVID-19 on our communities and the businesses we serve. And while the situation continues to change, and hopefully will improve in time, the impacts to insurance will be felt for many months and years to come. Brokers and risk managers should keep these key areas of focus in mind as we navigate these issues throughout 2021 and beyond.

Key Workers Compensation Impacts of COVID-19
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Transmission prevention
Government agency guidance is evolving — monitor and swiftly implement new recommendations, including:
Using cleaning log sheets
Posting signage requiring social distancing and masks
Supplying PPE
Documenting training efforts, incidents of noncompliance, and steps to enforce safety protocols
Maintaining notification procedures, contact tracing, and other actions taken to determine work-relatedness of exposures
Despite vaccine1 advancements, guidelines2 to minimize the spread will remain in place throughout much of 2021.
Claims issues
Cataloging compliance and preparedness efforts is a key component of navigating COVID-19 claims and helping to minimize additional liability.
Timely claims reporting is critical; delayed claims typically:
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Are harder to investigate
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Are more likely to involve litigation
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Cost more overall
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Take longer for injured workers to return
More than 20 states3 have workers compensation presumptions of compensability rules in place. These laws shift the burden to the employer of proving that an employee’s COVID-19 injury was not work related.
Long-term impacts
COVID impacts vary by patient; while many recover fully, some experience relapses and new symptoms for weeks or months.
Longer-term health impacts include:
Shortness of breath
Fatigue
Cognitive issues
Cardiovascular effects
Gastrointestinal issues
Low-grade fever
Intolerance to physical or mental activity
Muscle and joint pain
The long-tail nature of these claims will be felt for years to come, impacting the cost of insurance.
Other workers compensation impacts
Injury creep can occur when injured workers face treatments delays if providers:
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Temporarily halt elective surgeries to increase capacity in overstrained hospitals
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Offer fewer physical therapy appointments to meet social distancing requirements
Some businesses have adjusted operations, downsized, or closed temporarily; workers compensation impacts can include:
Reduced WC claims volume for some businesses
Limited light duty or return to work opportunities
Switching costs to train workers on different jobs
All these factors can increase claim durations and create new workplace risks.
Contact your underwriter today to see how we can help.
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From risk control guidance and claims handling expertise, to coverage options to address gaps in your insurance program, we’re here for you.

1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/8-things.html
2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/need-to-know.html
3. https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Pages/COVID-19.aspx

Your safety and well-being are our primary concern. These suggestions are general in nature, so you should ensure that any activities you contemplate comply with all federal, state, and local COVID-19 orders impacting your facilities or operations as well as CDC guidelines for social distancing, hygiene, and other recommended best practices.

Our risk control services are advisory only. We assume no responsibility for: managing or controlling customer safety activities, implementing any recommended corrective measures, or identifying all potential hazards.

No attempt has been made to interpret any referenced codes, standards, or regulations. Please refer to the appropriate government authority for interpretation or clarification.

Insurance is underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company or its affiliates or subsidiaries. © 2020 Liberty Mutual Insurance, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116.

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Liberty Mutual’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional advisor regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Liberty Mutual is not endorsing them.