Is the Coronavirus covered by Workers Comp? With the confirmation of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the East Coast, both employers and employees are scrambling to learn how to protect themselves medically and legally. In this article, we will address such concerns by answering these questions:
- Can coronavirus become a workers’ comp claim?
- Is coronavirus covered by Workers’ Comp or Employers’ Liability Insurance?
- What if workers’ comp doesn’t cover a coronavirus claim?
- What are the limits for Employers’ Liability Insurance?
- How can we protect our workers from coronavirus?
- How can employers prepare for a coronavirus outbreak?
Can Employees File a Workers’ Comp Claim for Coronavirus?
Yes, under certain circumstances. A workers’ comp claim can be filed if an employee contracts coronavirus during the course and scope of employment, and it can be proven. Here are some medium to high-risk examples where an employer may be responsible:
- Employees travel overseas for business and contract the virus
- Employees are exposed to coronavirus at work by an infected coworker
- Employees are assigned to work in a location with infected parties
However, at this time, most work conditions in the United States are considered low risk. If the virus continues to spread in the United States, liability coverage might change. As of now, there is still some gray area as to what will be and won’t be covered. This gray area exists because there is a lack of precedence when it comes to pandemics in the US If the coronavirus becomes worse than the swine flu, then Workers’ Comp will have to adapt its current conditions further.
Is coronavirus covered by Workers’ Comp or Employers’ Liability Insurance?
Workers’ compensation laws do not cover all workers or injuries, which may include some cases of employees with coronavirus. If the standard workers’ comp policy doesn’t cover the employee, the employee might sue their employer. In such cases, the employer could be protected by their Employers’ Liability Insurance (ELI). ELI can be packaged with workers’ comp and is also called “Part 2” of a workers’ compensation.
If you are not sure if your workers’ compensation insurance includes Employers’ Liability Insurance (ELI), call your NC Workers’ Comp Insurance Agency today. Also, be careful not to confuse ELI with EPLI (Employee Practices Liability Insurance). ELI usually falls under Workers’ Comp, whereas ELPI is typically a stand-alone policy.
What if workers’ comp doesn’t cover a coronavirus claim?
If your employee’s claim is not covered by workers’ comp, there is a strong possibility that your employee will file a lawsuit against your company. This is where Employment Liability Insurance comes into play.
Key Factors of Employers’ Liability Insurance:
- ELI protects the employer if Workers’ comp does not cover a worker, or if the employee decided to sue the employer
- A company typically purchases ELI when it buys workers’ compensation
- ELI places limits on the amounts paid out per employee, per injury, or per illness
Limits of Employers’ Liability Insurance
It is also important to know that Employers’ Liability insurance policies have limits. The policies limit the amounts paid out per employee, per injury, and per illness. The NC Workers’ Comp statutory limits are:
- Bodily Injury (per occurrence): $100,000
- Bodily Injury By Disease (per occurrence): $100,000
- Bodily Injury By Disease (policy limit): $500,000
Coronavirus would fall under the Disease policy. It is a good idea to contact your NC insurance agency to make sure you are satisfied with your current liability limits, especially in light of the coronavirus threat.
How can we protect our workers from coronavirus?
Coronavirus is believed to be contagious even before those who are infected exhibit symptoms. This fact is the primary concern for this virus since people who are unaware they are infected will continue to go about their business as usual, unknowingly exposing countless people they come in contact with. That means promoting healthy habits in the workplace is more important than ever.
- Encourage sick employees to stay home if they are experiencing cold-like symptoms, especially if they have a fever of 100.4° F or greater. Employees should not return to work until they are symptom-free without the use of medication for at least 24 hours.
- Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to the CDC’s guide for how to conduct a risk assessment of potential exposure.
- Send employees home who exhibit any cold-like symptoms.
- Emphasize the importance of hand hygiene. Instruct employees on cough and sneeze etiquette, and to clean their hands often with soap and water and alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Perform routine cleaning of the workplace, especially workstations, countertops, and doorknobs.
- Advise employees before traveling to check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations.
Employers Need to Plan Ahead
The United States has so far only been minimally affected by the coronavirus. However, the quick-spreading nature of the disease could quickly cause a national outbreak. Employers need to plan ahead to protect both their employees and their businesses during an outbreak. Consider how you will effectively communicate with employees, continue business with increased absenteeism, and prioritize essential business functions.
The CDC provides detailed advice on Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers.
NC Workers’ Comp for Coronavirus
Workers’ comp coverage varies from business to business. In light of the coronavirus, it is the perfect time to contact your NC workers’ comp insurance agency to ensure your business is adequately covered. ALLCHOICE Insurance is a local North Carolina insurance agency that can meet all your personal and business insurance needs.
Learn more from our Ultimate Workers Compensation Insurance Guide.