COVID-19 Emergency Workers’ Compensation Rating Changes on Tap

COVID-19 Emergency Workers’ Compensation Rating Changes on Tap

Emergency rules are being developed to guide workers’ compensation classification and claims for coronavirus-affected employers and their workers in California.

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau is pursuing the temporary rules to ensure fairness for employers so that their workers’ comp rates and experience modifiers (X-Mods) are not adversely affected by COVID-19-related issues.

The Rating Bureau’s Classification and Rating Committee, whose members include the top actuaries for a number of workers’ comp insurers in the state, will meet April 14 to discuss three important changes to the state rating plan, according to David Bellusci, senior vice president, chief operating officer, and chief actuary for the Bureau.

Proposed Changes to Workers’ Compensation Classifications and Claims

1. COVID-19-related claims filed by workers would be excluded from an employer’s experience rating and would not affect their X-Mod. The most obvious industries where claims would be filed are hospitals and emergency services, but grocery store workers, warehouse personnel and delivery drivers, among others, could make claims as well.
Since the occurrence of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims are unlikely to be a strong predictor of future claim costs incurred by an employer, their inclusion in an experience modification calculation would not meet the intended goal of experience rating, according to the Rating Bureau.

2. Salaries paid to workers who are at home not working yet still collecting a paycheck would be excluded for workers’ comp premium calculations. The reasoning here is that they are not working and are technically on leave. This should alleviate the premium burden on employers who have opted for these types of arrangements.

3. Anyone doing the same job at home and performing mostly desk work can be assigned Classification 8810, Clerical Office Employees, if their job duties, during California’s stay-at-home order, meet the definition of a Clerical Office Employee.
For example, an architect who is still working but at home would have a lower risk than during normal times when they may also be out in the field to check on projects.

Implementation of Workers’ Compensation Changes

Bellusci said the C&R Committee would vote on these rules on April 14 and, if approved, the Rating Bureau’s Governing Committee would vote on them at their meeting on April 17. The rules would be sent to the state insurance commissioner for final approval and implementation.

The exclusions above, if approved, would apply while California’s stay-at-home order is in place and for up to 30 days thereafter if the employee continues not to work.

If you have any questions about your premiums and claims, feel free to call us.