Does workers' comp cover coronavirus?
We’ll get right to the point, because you want to know about how COVID-19 affects your business and your team. Will your employees be able to claim workers’ comp if they catch the coronavirus?
The short answer: probably not. But let’s break that down a little further.
Here’s why the new coronavirus generally isn’t covered by workers’ comp
The most important thing you have to know: the major requirement for filing a workers’ comp claim is that the injury or illness be work-related. In other words, an employee has to be able to prove that they would not have suffered the illness or injury if they had not been employed and on the job.
In the case of the new coronavirus? Well, you see the issue—COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, and many people across the U.S. are contracting the virus simultaneously. It’s very difficult to make a case that a team-member wouldn’t have been infected with the virus had they not been employed.
The takeaway: illness arising from the new coronavirus generally isn’t covered by workers’ comp.
Are there any exceptions?
Maybe. While workers’ comp won’t cover coronavirus in most cases, there are a couple of situations in which coronavirus may be covered.
Most notably: in the state of Washington—where all workers’ comp is run by the state government—workers’ comp benefits for coronavirus may be paid out to health workers and other employees who are on the frontlines of the state’s pandemic response.
Also, there is some precedent for insurers paying out workers’ comp benefits for diseases not specifically related to the work itself. But, in such cases, it still has to be proven that an employee’s chances of contracting the disease were “materially greater” at the place of employment than among the public. And that’s just not likely, given the spread of this outbreak.
Basically: COVID-19 isn’t really a candidate for workers’ comp coverage. (For now. Read on!)
Anything else you should know about workers’ comp and COVID-19?
Yes, and it’s important. Keep in mind that the COVID-19 outbreak happened really fast, and insurers and regulators are still formulating responses. State governments, in particular, are issuing new guidelines daily—and we’re keeping on top of all of it.
So, for the latest news on how COVID-19 might affect your small business, please like Huckleberry on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. We’ll pass along important news as it comes up. We know this is an uncertain time for small businesses, and we’re here for you.
In the meantime, it's important to remember that workers' comp protects your business and your team in lots of ways that are vital all the time (but especially right now!). Also, many clients require proof of ongoing workers' comp coverage, so going without it could cost you revenue at a time when you need it most. Tap here to get an instant estimate on what you might pay.
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