Coronavirus and Workers Comp

If you have any specific questions or concerns, or for assistance of accommodations related to COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact your Eastern service team for assistance.

 

 

Keep Your Employees Safe:  Tools and Resources

 

Simple, everyday precautions help reduce the spread of acute respiratory illness, especially in settings where people are in close contact with one another:

CDC Coronavirus Poster

  • Wash hands often
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Stay home when sick!
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces

 

These actions are a valuable defense against the spread of the seasonal flu and Coronavirus. Be sure to follow CDC recommendations for any additional recommended actions.

 

Is your organization adapting to COVID-19 recommendations and restrictions by:

  • Transitioning to curbside pick-up and delivery?
  • Transitioning to working from home/remotely?
  • Offering daycare services for employees impacted by school closings?

 

Recognize and manage the risks presented by these non-routine activities. Eastern is here to help—check out the documents and links on this page, or log-in to access our full Safety Resources Library.

 

The situation regarding COVID-19 is changing rapidly, along with guidance and recommended actions. Be sure to regularly check the CDC and OSHA’s online resources, along with your state or local public health website, for the latest recommendations.

 

COVID-19 and Workers' Comp Claims

 

Can employees file a WC claim related to COVID-19? Is COVID-19 compensable?

As with many topics in workers’ compensation, the answer is, “it depends”—the specific facts of a claim, as well as jurisdictional statutes, determine compensability. As the situation in the United States evolves, the compensability of a COVID-19 claim may or may not change.

 

Eastern will—as we do with each and every claim reported to us—review every COVID-19 related claim and make the right decision based on the individual merits of that claim.

 

We are proactively analyzing the specific statues and case laws that may apply in jurisdictions we serve. Additionally, we are internally tracking all claims related to seasonal flu/COVID-19, and monitoring all of our claim activity to ensure a consistent response.

 

If you have a question regarding a potential claim, we encourage you to call Eastern to discuss the circumstances. Your local claims team is available to answer your questions.

 

How should we report a claim related to COVID-19? 

Please continue to report your claims either online or via teleclaim. Both are available to you 24/7.

 

How are you providing care to injured workers? 

Your trusted local claims experts continue to manage your claims and take care of your employees, using medical expertise from our clinical resources and trusted partners to guide our decisions. We are expanding the availability of in-home and telemedicine services, and have proactively taken measures to ensure our level of service is not disrupted. Rest assured, you and your injured workers can continue relying on the Eastern Way, our service commitment that places you above all else.

 

What about employer negligence claims related to COVID-19? 

Workers' compensation policies have two parts in their coverage:

 

Part One--Workers' Compensation--covers the employer's responsibility to provide their employees with benefits for a work-related injury. These benefits are usually considered the "exclusive remedy" for a work-related injury or disease.

 

Part Two--Employers' Liability--may provide coverage for an employer if a claim is filed alleging that an injury or disease was caused by the employer's negligence and the employer is legally responsible for the injury or disease.

 

You should be aware of, and actively follow, CDC and OSHA guidelines and recommendations to ensure your employees' safety during this pandemic. Your Eastern risk management team can help you understand and implement best practices for your operations.

 

If you receive a claim or legal action alleging employer negligence under Part Two of your policy, Eastern will review your claim to determine if there is any coverage and/or compensability.

 

If you have a question regarding a potential claim, we encourage you to call Eastern to discuss the circumstances. Your local claims team is available to answer your questions.

 

This item updated 4/17/2020

 

Billing, Payroll, and Premium Audits

 

Billing

Eastern temporarily paused the cancellation of policies due to non-payment of premium on March 23, 2020. Now that states are re-opening, we are reviewing overdue accounts and will initiate the cancellation process on a case-by-case basis.

 

We continue to follow state-issued directives, and where applicable, will defer the issuance of cancellation notices until the order has expired. Please be advised, the policy cancellation moratoriums in many states have, or will soon, expire.

 

For states where a policy cancellation moratorium is in effect, please note:

  • This does not waive any payments due during the suspension period. It extends the grace period to pay the premiums due before cancellation occurs.
  • Invoices and late pay notices will continue to be issued to keep you informed of amounts due.
  • Automated electronic payments will be processed as previously set-up by the policyholder.

 

Eastern monitors state-issued directives on a daily basis. We may modify our policies and procedures as a result of new information. Please check this page for updates and modifications.

 

Do you want to make your payments online? Download our Electronic Check Guide. Do you want to receive your invoices and statements through email instead of postal mail? Download our Paperless Billing Guide.

 

Payroll, Operations, and Premium Audits

If you experience disruptions to your payroll and/or operations due to COVID-19 related issues, please contact your Eastern agent to determine what measures are appropriate for your circumstances.

 

The COVID-19 crisis creates unique issues surrounding classification assignments, reporting and payroll adjustments. Eastern presented a webinar in June 2020 on the impact of COVID-19 on issues related to this topic. Click here to access the recording.

 

Do you have paid furloughed employees? Currently, our operating states (with the exception of NY) have adopted payroll class 0012 (1212 for PA and DE). These wages (regardless of funding source, including government loans) are not included in the premium calculation if you have maintained separate payroll records.

 

Remember, it is important to document any changes, interruption, or suspension to your organization's operations.You must maintain separate payroll records for any change in operations or wages earned for any employees whose role has changed, even temporarily. These records will be very helpful during your workers' compensation audit.

 

If your policy is enrolled in Eastern's parallel pay(R) program and you need assistance or accomodations reporting your payroll information to the portal, please contact our parallel pay support team at 1-855-533-3444 to discuss your options.

 

To safeguard our policyholders and staff, policyholders are encouraged to share their records electronically through a secure platform. In cases where an on-site premium audit may be appropriate, we have established protocols to assess the potential risk and to ensure the safety and well-being of our policyholders and staff.

 

At renewal time, you may want to consider Eastern's parallel pay 'pay-as-you-go' program. parallel pay can benefit operations experiencing payroll fluctuations by calculating and charging premium based on payroll reports, and withdrawing the payment automatically. 

 

This item updated 08/14/2020.

 

Safeguarding Our Employees

Safety is our top priority. There are occasions when an onsite visit from a marketing representative, risk management consultant or premium auditor may be appropriate. For these scenarios, we have established protocols to assess the potential risk and to ensure the safety and well-being of our agency partners, policyholders and staff.

Our offices are currently closed to visitors and many of our employees are working from home/remotely. For those who are working in our offices, we have established protocols to reduce the risk of exposure and the potential of having an employee come in contact with the virus while at work. We have prohibited non-essential travel. Our staff continues to provide significant communication, support and consultation through phone and video conferencing. We appreciate your understanding in implementing these measures in the interest of everyone's health and safety.

This item updated 8/14/2020.

 
Additional Resources

Eastern is a member of the ProAssurance family of companies, where “We Exist to Protect Others.” ProAssurance’s COVID-19 site has resources and information for healthcare providers regarding medical liability concerns, professional liability coverage issues, telemedicine considerations, and more.