Recent COVID-19 Claims Examples and Changes

Check out the article below to see some examples of COVID-19 claims and how it is affecting employers, carriers and employees alike.
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Coronavirus/COVID-19 is affecting Florida workers’ compensation claims in a variety of ways, including litigation events (being required to appear telephonically for events or having to continue final hearings due to delays in being able to depose physicians) and the actual workers’ compensation claims themselves as discussed below.

On April 24, 2020, Judge Timothy Stanton of the Gainesville Office of Judges of Compensation Claims found in Gomez, Esteban v. Ridgeway Roof Truss/Zenith Insurance Company, OJCC Case No. 19-016953TSS (Final Compensation Order dated April 24, 2020)  that “based upon the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated risks and restrictions,” the employer’s/carrier’s selection of a physician an hour away from the claimant’s home whereby the claimant would be transported to the medical appointment in “close proximity to a stranger, in an enclosed vehicle for close to two hours for each medical visit that may expose him and his family to COVID-19 (was) unreasonable.” The employer/carrier was required to select and authorize a local physician to provide the claimant with medical treatment, whereby his wife could drive him to appointments, due to Florida being “engulfed in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic” and preventing the spread of this virus.

On May 14, 2020, Judge Robert Arthur of the Lakeland Office of Judges of Compensation Claims opined asserting that an injured employee’s failure to meet its prima facia burden to show entitlement to temporary partial disability benefits (i.e. in asserting there was a break in the causation chain due to COVID-19) is an affirmative defense that should be listed on the Uniform Pretrial Stipulation.  “The parties are required to set forth their claims and defenses in the Pretrial Stipulation. It is the employer’s/carrier’s burden to demonstrate a break in the causation chain. As the employer/carrier bears the burden to establish the break in the causal chain this is an affirmative defense that must be pled with specificity on the Pretrial Stipulation.” See Gamero-Hernandez, Teresa v. Beals/Sedgwick CMS, OJCC Case Nos. 17-023646RAA; 18-007955RAA (Final Compensation Order dated May 14, 2020) citing Knight v. Walgreens, 109 So. 3d 1224 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013); Perez v. Se. Freight Lines, Inc., 159 So. 3d 412 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015); Meehan v. Orange County Data & Appraisals, 272 So. 3d 458 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019)

On May 21, 2020, Judge Keef Owens of the Port St. Lucie Office of Judges of Compensation Claims denied a claimant’s motion for an advance of $2,000.00 as the claimant failed to demonstrate (1) a failure to return to employment at no substantial wage reduction; (2) a substantial loss of earning capacity; or (3) an actual or apparent physical impairment. Judge Owens stated, “An advance serves as a ‘stopgap to help a claimant avoid defaulting with creditors while awaiting the potential distribution of workers’ compensation benefits, when the reduction in income is caused by the injury.” In this case, the claimant was not working for the employer because she had been furloughed due to COVID-19.  As such, Judge Owens found that her “reduction of earnings is not a result of her work-related accident” and therefore no advance was due and owing to the claimant. See Paradise, Kyley v. Global Hospitality Management/MEMIC Indemnity Co., OJCC No. 20-004078KFO (Evidentiary Order on Claimant’s Motion for Advance dated May 21, 2020 (citations omitted.)

The decisions amongst the various Offices of Judges of Compensation Claims may vary on a case-by-case basis. In general, it appears that JCCs prefer employer’s/carrier’s to limit exposure by coordinating appointments that the claimant is able to drive to, without the need for providing means of transportation.  Any COVID-19 affirmative defenses need to be listed on the Uniform Pretrial Stipulation or same will be waived as a defense.  And when determining whether an advance may be due and owing to an injured employee, the employer/carrier should further investigate whether the claimant’s reduction in income is due to the industrial accident or rather furloughs due to COVID-19.

Remember that coronavirus/COVID-19 exposure claims are being treated as occupational injuries and/or exposure.  These claims have a higher burden of proof and require the claimant to use a clear and convincing burden of proof to prove causation in relation to Florida Statute Sections 440.01(1) and 440.151(1)(a) and (2).

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This article was written by Amanda Mitteer Bartley with Chartwell Law. Article link is below:

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/various-effects-of-coronavirus-on-96202/

Beazley Speaks on EPL Changes for Businesses Affected by COVID-19

There has been a lot of discussion as of late regarding the impact of COVID-19 on Workers’ Compensation, Business Interruption, Health Benefits, etc., but what about Employment Practices Liability?  Below is a great overview of the ever changing landscape of EPL due to COVID from our friends at Beazley.

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Around the world, governments responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 by implementing various restrictions on the movement of people through quarantines, lock-downs, stay at home orders, and other similar measures.  Businesses, particularly those in the service and retail industries, were most affected by these measures.  People were staying home, which meant no customers:  No diners at restaurants.  No shoppers in the malls.  Nobody getting haircuts, manicures, pedicures, or massages.  Many of the affected businesses have either announced permanent or indefinite closures or reduced service, and consequently, have had to furlough, layoff, or permanently terminate the employment of hundreds of thousands of employees.

 

Many businesses with financial difficulties are Client Companies of PEOs.  As a result, with both new and old Claims, Beazley has noticed an increase in Client Companies unwilling or unable to pay amounts for defense or indemnity within their SIR.  For Client Companies facing an uncertain financial future, they are unwilling to engage in settlement negotiations or mediation.  Rather than committing their limited resources to settlement, Client Companies want to preserve or use those funds to keep their businesses running by paying employees and other overhead expenses that remain despite reduced business income.  Unfortunately, there are also some Client Companies whose businesses will not survive; and they are simply unable to fund amounts of settlements within their SIRs.  There is no one size fits all solution.  All Insureds have differing limitations; and Beazley has been working collaboratively with its PEOs and Client Companies Insureds to strategize the best approach to resolving each claim in this COVID-19 environment.

 

Moving forward, Beazley anticipates more COVID-19 related claims including:

 

  • Claims for violations of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and/or the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, or failure to rehire for voicing concerns or making requests regarding COVID-19, missing work to recover from (or care for another with) COVID-19, etc.
  • General notices of mass layoffs or reductions in force.  (Note:  Typically, coverage is unavailable, but in certain circumstances, an Employment Event sublimit coverage may be available.)
  • Third Party Discrimination against persons of Asian descent.

 

As part of the renewal process, Beazley is considering PEOs and Staffing Firms’ strategies to addressing COVID-19 and the COVID-19 induced recession.  Some of Beazley’s questions are:

 

  1. Does the PEO work with their Client Companies to ensure they have an effective Business Continuity Plan for COVID-19?
  2. What protocols do the PEO and their Client Companies have if worksite employees are or were infected with COVID-19?
  3. Are Client Companies required to consult with the PEO before any terminations, and layoffs, reductions in force, or downsizing?
  4. What support does the PEO provide their Client Companies with to comply with employment laws, including the FMLA and FFCRA?
  5. Does the PEO offer advice to their Client Companies regarding worksite employees working from home?

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To hear more about the impact on Employment Practices Liability due to COVID-19, please join NAPEO’s EPLI Webinar, this Thursday July 16th, 12pm ET. Libertate’s own President, Paul Hughes, will be moderating.

https://www.napeo.org/events/events-calendar/town-hall-series

Regulators and Lawmakers Introducing Workers’ Comp to COVID-19

By Jim Sams, April 20, 2020

Sympathetic state lawmakers and regulators in states both red and blue promise to make COVID-19 a major cost driver for workers’ compensation insurers.

The governors of Kentucky, Arkansas, North Dakota and Florida and state regulators in Illinois, Washington, Michigan and Missouri have issued executive orders or amended rules to expand eligibility for workers’ compensation.

Most of those decrees ease the path for benefits only for healthcare workers and first responders, but an emergency order by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission creates a presumption that work is the cause of COVID-19 if contracted by any “frontline worker” identified in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s March 20 stay-at-home order. That includes workers at grocery stores, laundries, banks and hardware stores, among other businesses.

Kentucky Gov. Beshear issued a similarly broad executive order that created a COVID-19 presumption for workers in grocery stores, child-care centers, domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers, in addition to first responders and healthcare workers.

In the meantime state legislators are also pushing to expand benefits for COVID-19. Earlier this month, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R), Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed into law bills that create a COVID-19 presumptions for first responders and some healthcare workers.

Bills to create presumptions for COVID-19 have been introduced in the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Utah state legislatures.

Steamroller

Philadelphia defense attorney Cliff Goldstein said he saw the avalanche of presumption bills coming as soon as heard the first reports of the disease spreading into the United States.

“I don’t think there’s any way to stop that steamroller,” he said.

Data from the California Division of Workers’ Compensation bears him out. As of Thursday, 1,527 claims coded for COVID-19 on claims notices had been filed, according to agency spokeswoman Erika Monterroza.

Goldstein is not the only defense attorney predicting a flood of COVID claims.

“There will likely be many workman compensation claims because of the ease of filing, there is no requirement to prove negligence, and for many people their greatest contact with others, and hence the greatest chance of contracting the virus, is at work,” David Boies, managing partner of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP in New York, told Bloomberg News.

Goldstein said presumption legislation promises to be a boon for claimants’ attorneys, who will take a percentage of any permanent disability benefits awarded.

“You are just dangling meat in front of hungry lions,” he said.

Goldstein said his office — Chartwell Law in Valley Forge — has already received a handful of claims, some of them death claims. He said employers should resist any kind-hearted urge to quickly approve such claims based on the employee’s job category. Instead, each claim must be individually investigated, he said.

COVID-19 claims that require admission to an intensive care unit will likely run into the six figures for medical costs alone, he said. What’s more, employers will be taking full responsibility for whatever complications arise from a coronavirus infection far into the future.

Goldstein said Congress passed a pair of relief bills in March that should make it easier for employers to delay acceptance of a claim. The legislation requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to grant up to 80 hours of sick leave to workers sickened by the new coronavirus, which will be reimbursed with tax credits. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Thursday that requires the same benefit from employers with more than 500 workers.

For workers who lose their jobs because of coronavirus, the federal emergency law also allows up to 16 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits at rates ranging from $875 to $1,500 per week, depending on the state, Goldstein said.

Vulnerable Occupations

Claimants’ attorney Julius Young in Oakland, Calif. said those benefits won’t make workers whole. Usually workers lose their health insurance if they lose their job, which makes workers’ comp a vital benefit for employees who were made sick because of their exposure to the public while at work. Also, some workers may be permanently disabled by COVID-19.

He said presumption bills make sense for workers who can’t avoid constant contact with the public.

“A lot of these people in vulnerable occupations shouldn’t have to go through this roulette-like maze wondering whether they are going to be covered,” Young said.

Young said the federal benefits will help in the short-term. He said state regulators should start thinking about whether and how any federal benefits paid can be offset from workers’ compensation awards.

Medical research indicates that there is a real possibility of permanent disability from COVID-19.

According to Science Magazine, the lack of oxygen and widespread inflammation caused by COVID-19 can damage kidneys, liver, heart, brain and other organs. Studies show that severe pneumonia caused by other diseases sometimes lead to scarring that causes long-term breathing problems. Pneumonia also increases the risk of future illnesses, including heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.

In one study of 138 patients hospitalized in Wuhan, China due to pneumonia from COVID-19, 20 percent suffered acute respiratory distress syndrome.

A separate study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011 Regulators and Lawmakers Introducing Workers’ Comp to COVID-19found that of 109 survivors of ARDS, 51% suffered physician-diagnosed depression, anxiety or both. Perhaps more relevant to workers’ comp, that study found that just 77 percent of the 83 patients who survived throughout the study period had returned to work five years after being treated. The study found that only 39% of patients were able to walk the distance expected for their age group in six minutes five years later, suggesting a high degree of physical impairment.

As of yet, none of the major workers’ compensation rating organizations has released any projections on the potential impact of COVID-19 on workers’ comp loss costs.

The National Council of Compensation hopes to release next week an analysis of potential claim costs under a variety of scenarios, said Executive Director Jeff Eddinger. For example, one scenario project costs if a large percentage of workers who contract COVID-19 file claims and 100 percent are found to be compensable. He said the analysis will make projections for a variety of infection and claim-acceptance rates.

Eddinger said NCCI does not yet have any data on how many claims have been filed. He said insurers don’t report their losses until six months after the policy period expires. But he said there is some data available. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that between 10 percent to 20 percent of COVID-19 cases were healthcare workers.

The California Workers’ Compensation is working on similar projections, said President Alex Swedlow.

 

Want to learn more about how COVID-19 affects your company? Give us a call at 305-495-5173, or email us at sreynolds@libertateins.com.

Take a ‘Deep Dive’ Into the Nonprofit Sector: Nonprofits Treading Water as Market Hardens

April 9, 2020 by Stephanie K. Jones & Amy O’Connor

The task of insuring nonprofit organizations is a complex one and agents, brokers, underwriters and carrier representatives say that in order to fully serve those entities that serve our communities in myriad ways, it’s vital to take the time to understand what they do and how they do it.

Specialists in this segment are more important than ever as the commercial market has tightened and property and liability coverage rates continue to rise, challenging the slim budgets of most nonprofits.

Headlines from the #MeToo movement and large jury awards for sexual abuse cases have also spooked carriers who write nonprofit business into offering smaller limits or pulling out of the space altogether, nonprofit insurance experts say.

As the third largest employment sector in the United States — behind retail and manufacturing — the nonprofit world, made up of 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations largely focused on contributing to their communities, faces the types of operational challenges that exist in the for-profit universe but also issues that are unique to the charitable sector.

Funding is one such challenge, as nonprofits typically have smaller budgets than for-profit entities with funding coming from donations as well as from contracts with larger nonprofits or local, state and federal governments.

Finding the proper insurance coverage can be another challenge for nonprofit organizations in light of the different factors that affect the organization, such as its funding sources, liabilities that stem from its mission, its property, clients, staffing and a heavy reliance on volunteer participation.

The class requires specialists who take the time to really understand a nonprofit’s different challenges and exposures, experts say, particularly considering the changing market.

“We spend a lot of time on doing what somebody might call a deep dive into what they do,” said Polly Kosyla, president of S. Wolf and Associates, a Chicago-based independent agency focused solely on the nonprofit sector.

She said that includes developing an understanding of the nonprofit’s mission, their activities, the responsibilities of their volunteers and staff, their funding sources and the other entities with which they work.

“I think the front-end work of what we do is very labor-intensive to really get a full understanding of what an organization is not only doing now, but also trying to accomplish in the future,” added Charlie Kosyla, vice president at S. Wolf and Associates.

Because of the variety of nonprofit risks, there’s no one carrier that can provide the coverage needs for all of them, Charlie Kosyla added. In crafting solutions for their clients, it’s a matter of finding a fit with “the collection of carriers and MGAs we work with. It’s fitting all the policies because there’s no one carrier to cover them all. It’s a vast market.”

Peter Andrew, president and CEO of Council Services Plus in New York, an agency that only writes nonprofits, said there are few carriers that regularly and comprehensively work with nonprofit organizations because of their exposures, which can make it difficult for the smaller nonprofits to get all the coverage they need.

“There are certain coverage features that nonprofits like to have that maybe for-profit businesses don’t, like coverage for volunteers, coverage for special events, fundraisers, the ability to name additional insured, funding sources, municipalities, conference, location hosts, things of that nature,” he said. “There’s only a handful of insurance companies who are really writing a policy that’s comprehensive for the nonprofit world in that way.”

Hardening Market

In a space that is already limited in terms of carriers that specialize in it, nonprofit insurance experts say exiting capacity is a huge risk to the segment that could make nonprofits vulnerable to being underinsured or without the coverage they need to operate.

Andrew and other specialists say there are signs of a tightening market with higher rates and lower capacity for both liability and property insurance after many years of a very soft market.

“In addition to a shrinking capacity, some of the for-profits [carriers] are completely withdrawing from the nonprofit market or certain sectors of the nonprofit market, especially sectors that have high exposure to the molestation abuse — so nonprofits serving children, vulnerable adults,” said Brian Johnson, chief underwriting officer for the Nonprofit Insurance Alliance, a nonprofit-focused insurer writing business in 32 states and D.C.”

“Carriers are getting out of foster care, they’re getting out of camps, they’re pulling back limits on misconduct, on D&O; they’re even taking it out of the umbrella in some cases. They’re non-renewing or maybe extending [coverage] for a month,” said Peter Persuitti, managing director of the Nonprofit Practice at Arthur J. Gallagher.

Nicole Jolley, director of Nonprofit at Church Mutual Insurance Co. in Merrill, Wis., noted there has been “some tightening in the property space and we’re looking at liability as a potential next line of business that will be hardening.”

She added that the #MeToo movement and changes in sexual misconduct reviver statutes across the country, where many states are suspending the statutes of limitations for abuse and molestation, are having an impact on liability rates for both nonprofit and for-profit businesses.

Certain segments, particularly those that have exposure to minors or vulnerable adults, are seeing the biggest shift due to a swell in plaintiff attorneys going after nonprofits.

Mike Liguzinski, division president, Specialty Human Services at Great American Insurance Group in Cincinnati, Ohio, said the social inflation caused by a very proactive plaintiff bar, which is pursuing and winning more verdicts and high jury awards, is impacting rates. It’s not a new phenomenon, rather a trend that seems to cycle around about every 10 years, he said.

“We’re going to see rising rates for the next two to three years because of social inflation,” Liguzinski said.

Brad Baumgartner, executive vice president with IMA Inc. in Denver, said liability and property coverages in the nonprofit space are mirroring what is happening in the P&C market in general.

“Comp prices are coming down, which is great, because that has historically been a big spend for them. But just like anywhere else in health and human services, professional liability has been going up,” he said.

Nonprofit insurance broker Jordann Coleman with Heffernan Insurance Brokers in Walnut Creek, Calif., said a soft workers’ comp market has been a “silver lining” for many nonprofits as property and liability rates rise.

“Workers’ compensation has been the one area that we’ve been able to — at least rate-wise — provide some relief,” she said.

Carriers that specialize in nonprofits are taking note of the market changes.

Liguzinski wouldn’t go so far as to say that the market is in a crisis mode, but he acknowledged his company is “getting a ton of calls” from brokers trying to place business. “Let’s put it this way: Our phone is ringing. We don’t have to go looking for it,” he said.

Johnson of the Nonprofit Insurance Alliance tells a similar story.

“Our submission account for 2019 was up overall 25% year-over-year, and a lot of that is because some of the for-profits [carriers] are saying, ‘Yep, we’re out. We’re not doing it anymore.'” he said.

While the market is changing, Polly Kosyla says coverage is still available for most of her clients.

She said she has been in insurance long enough to remember a time when there were no carriers that would insure a shelter or provide a sexual abuse liability policy.

“There certainly are carriers that are willing to write a bulk of what our clients do,” she said.

Kosyla said her agency has succeeded in weathering the ups and downs in carrier capacity by working with a core group of carriers that “we can go to for more standard risks and … more unusual risks.”

For accounts that aren’t in the religious sector and haven’t been hit with lawsuits, Heffernan’s Coleman says coverage is still available, and she hasn’t seen much change from the specialized carriers that write the business.

“I think the ones that are in it have been in it for the long haul and will continue to stay in it for the long haul,” Coleman said.

Council Services Plus’ Andrew said he doesn’t think the nonprofit market is in crisis — yet.

“There’s only a handful of insurance companies who are really writing a policy that’s comprehensive for the nonprofit world, and when they start to go away or they start to firm up, then there’s even less options in the marketplace,” he said. “I don’t think it’s reached crisis level, but does it have to reach crisis level for us to get ahead of something?”

He said the landscape is shifting, and, “if we’re not careful, we’re going to have hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of nonprofit organizations wasting resources to pay for more premiums or being outright canceled and not being able to get insurance. Then we really have a crisis.”

Impact of Funding

A nonprofit’s revenue sources are highly influential not only to how the organization is managed and its ability to complete its mission, but to the development of an insurance program for the risk, the experts say.

Many nonprofits receive funding from grants or contracts from municipalities, states or the federal government, and that funding dictates the level of limits or coverages that nonprofits must have.

Charlie Kosyla said brokers need to pay attention to those details, so that nonprofits have all the proper insurance in place and carriers feel comfortable writing the risk.

“The funding difference between a nonprofit and a for-profit is a for-profit might have a product that they’re selling or might have a revenue stream that’s coming in and supporting the business, whereas a nonprofit, they’re going to rely on multiple revenue streams,” Charlie Kosyla said.

“Nonprofit organizations are under obligation contractually to have certain insurances in place, and if that insurance isn’t available or it’s only available at a cost prohibitive price, then it threatens the nonprofit sector unlike it threatens any other sector,” Andrew said.

Andrew noted he has had clients with $8,000 budgets that have to spend $2,000 on insurance; dedicating such a big portion of their budget to insurance takes away their ability to help their local community.

“Every dollar that goes to insurance is one less dollar to its mission,” said Andrew. “We can’t do that to communities.”

Helping Nonprofits During Uncertain Times

Nonprofit experts agree this segment needs agents and underwriters who specialize in it and can help their clients understand their exposures and what coverages they need. That knowledge will be especially important to helping nonprofits navigate a firmer market with limited coverage availability.

“Insurance isn’t the top of their list of things that they’re doing on a daily basis,” Baumgartner of IMA said of the nonprofits with which he works.

Baumgartner said sometimes he sees exposures a previous broker hadn’t paid much attention to. Nonprofit brokers need to do a “thorough risk review, where you’re reading the terms and conditions of the various policies, discussing the limits, and benchmarking the pricing,” Baumgartner said. “I’ve run into a number of scenarios where there are a lot of coverage gaps.”

Polly Kosyla said many clients who have transitioned to her agency previously worked with agents that had been trained to work with commercial accounts but not necessarily with nonprofits.

“We get a lot of clients who are with insurance that doesn’t fit them or had premiums that are way too low or way too high because it doesn’t fit what they do. I can understand why a commercial agent would be frustrated trying to figure out how to insure a group that they really don’t understand,” she said.

An agent’s expertise and deep understanding of the client’s operation is not only essential to the client, it’s a big factor in how underwriters look at the risk, as well, said Penny Parisoff, non-profit product management director at GuideOne Insurance in West Des Moines, Iowa.

She said agents need to understand the types of clients the nonprofits serve and clearly articulate their story to the underwriter.

“I think that’s true on all of the nonprofits — because the nonprofit space has such variety to it — is that agent really learning the risks?” she said.

Agents and brokers can help their clients by working with them on their processes and procedures, their safety culture and preventative measures, and help them establish a risk management plan with steps in place, Great American’s Liguzinski said.

“Help them wear that hat or co-wear the hat with them, the risk manager hat,” he said. “A number of the carriers have risk management tools and portals and online training, and sending out a loss control person to work with them on their processes, procedures, background checks.”

Nonprofit Insurance Alliance’s Johnson says he tells his brokers one of the most important things to do is understand what contracts nonprofits are signing “because it’s the broker’s job to help the nonprofits figure out what coverages they need, what limits they need, and an important factor of that is what contracts are they signing, what liability we’re taking on.”

He also noted that brokers need to understand the differences in policy forms that different carriers offer and “not just go where you get the most commission, not just go where you know the person best.”

“Make sure you understand the policy so you’re going to get the nonprofit the best coverage available for the best price. Understand loss control services that the companies are offering,” he said. “Make sure you’re taking advantage of their employment risk management services.

Make sure you’re taking advantage of their driver training.”

He added brokers should be aware of different statute changes around the country and the changes in social inflation and he cautioned against brokers going with a policy that offers the highest limits because it may not be to the benefit of smaller nonprofits.

“It’s easy for a broker to say to a nonprofit, ‘You need a $10 million umbrella. Get as much coverage as you can get as possible,’ because they can never be accused of not offering to give them enough coverage — they’re protected,” he said. “Nowadays, what that does is it puts a target on their back, so the lawyers will say, ‘They got $10 million of coverage. I think I’m going to demand $10 million.’ It never fails.”

Andrew says he wishes more brokers would become specialists in the nonprofit sector and learn about it on a “grassroots level.”

That intimate knowledge would help underwriters feel more comfortable offering coverage in the segment.

“If more brokers got into the sector and took time to understand the sector, then yes, more companies would understand what nonprofits are and then understand that these organizations are not the risk that they might be perceived. No one’s taken the time to really talk through what this organization does with an underwriter,” he said.

Nonprofits are evolving and working to address and manage their exposures, said Persuitti. “It’s a very dynamic sector that is in many ways at the edge of lots of risk, but very committed to screening its volunteers. It’s learned so much. It’s taken that knowledge and science and the advancements of technology.”

Persuitti said despites its challenges, the nonprofit segment is a “remarkably growing space” that is very rewarding to work in.

Andrew said he hopes the insurance market will work to ensure the availability and affordability of insurance for nonprofits before it becomes a crisis because that would be devastating for not just the nonprofits themselves, but the communities they help.

“That worries me because I see what these small community-based organizations are doing on the local level,” he said.

Insureds and insurers benefit from fair premiums being charged for the risk — not too high or too low, he said. The broker’s job is to “bring those two ends together” so both sides get a fair deal.

“When those two things come together, the nonprofit’s expectations and the company’s understanding, boy, that’s a great thing,” Andrew said. “We don’t have enough of that right now.”

 

Want to know more about how COVID-19 could affect your company? Give Sharlie Reynolds a call at 305-495-5173 or email her at sreynolds@libertateins.com.

Texas Mutual Dividend Checks Arriving Two Months Early

Dividend checks coming early to support our policyholders
We know that supporting our policyholders during this uncertain time is more important than ever, which is why our board of directors has voted to pay dividends two months early. Like many of you and your clients, we don’t know the economic impact that COVID-19 will have on our business, but we do know that we are in a good position to distribute this dividend in this critical time.
We’re proud to share that our teams are working hard to finalize this year’s individual dividend payout of $330 million to over 57,000 policyholders. This year marks the 22nd year that we are paying dividends to our policyholders, bringing the total to over $3.1 billion back to Texas businesses since 1999.
View dividends online on April 13, checks mailed April 20
On April 13, you will be able to log into texasmutual.com to view dividend information and amounts for your clients. We’ll send a reminder email when that information is available to view. Checks will be mailed April 20. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to offer hand-delivery to agents because of the stay-at-home order, but we encourage you to share the good news with your clients.
We are working diligently to deliver dividends to our policyholder owners ahead of schedule. We are on target to meet the dates communicated in this email, but appreciate your understanding if we need to make any adjustments.
Dividend questions?
We know that you may receive questions from your clients about dividends and we’re here to help you. In anticipation of the questions you may receive: At this time, we do not have direct deposit available. If your client needs us to reissue a check, they can call us at (800) 859-5995. You can view dividend amounts for qualifying policyholders on April 13. Policyholders can view dividend information in their accounts on April 20, which is when we will mail checks. View dividend FAQs for more information.
Thank you for trusting Texas Mutual to serve your clients. Learn more about our dividend program at texasmutual.com/ownershippays.

Weekly Earnings Growth Continues to Increase as Jobs Growth Holds Steady

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Feb. 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The latest Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch reflects a continuation of the tight labor market to start 2020. Weekly earnings growth improved for the 13th consecutive month, reaching 3.59 percent in January. Weekly hours worked were up 0.83 percent from last year, contributing to the growth in weekly earnings. The pace of small business employment growth remains consistent, with the national jobs index increasing slightly (0.01 percent) in January to 98.18.

At 98.18, the Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Jobs Index is up 0.04 percent during the past quarter, but down 0.76 percent from last year. • At 2.89 percent, hourly earnings growth dipped below the three percent mark to begin 2020.

View photos

 

At 98.18, the Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Jobs Index is up 0.04 percent during the past quarter, but down 0.76 percent from last year. • At 2.89 percent, hourly earnings growth dipped below the three percent mark to begin 2020.

“The national index has been flat since mid-year 2019, signaling a continued tight labor market for small businesses,” said James Diffley, chief regional economist at IHS Markit.

“With election season heating up and the economy top of mind for business owners, this month’s Small Business Employment Watch demonstrates the continuing stability of jobs growth recently, as well as weekly earnings improvement,” said Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO. “The data shows consistent employment growth and yet another month of encouraging wage growth, two key indicators that the economy is off to a solid start in 2020.”

Broken down further, the January report showed:

  • The South continues to top regions for small business employment growth; the West remains the leading region for hourly earnings growth.
  • Tennessee ranks first among states in small business job growth; New York leads in hourly earnings growth.
  • Phoenix became the top metro for small business job growth; San Francisco leads metros in hourly earnings growth.
  • At 5.12 percent, Leisure and Hospitality leads hourly earnings growth among industry sectors.

The complete results for January, including interactive charts detailing all data at a national, regional, state, metro, and industry level, are available at www.paychex.com/employment-watch. Highlights are available below.

National Jobs Index

  • The decline seen in small business employment growth during the first half of 2019 has given way to hiring stability over the past two quarters.
  • Up a modest 0.01 percent in January, the national index continues to show very little change in job gains.
  • At 98.18, the Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Jobs Index is up 0.04 percent during the past quarter, but down 0.76 percent from last year.

National Wage Report

  • Weekly earnings growth reached 3.59 percent, improving for the 13th straight month.
  • At 2.89 percent, hourly earnings growth dipped below the three percent mark to begin 2020.
  • Weekly hours worked are up 0.83 percent from last year.

Regional Jobs Index

  • Above 98, the Northeast is reporting positive year-over-year growth for the first time in nearly three years. Strong performance in the Leisure and Hospitality sector is a contributor to that growth, up 2.60 percent since last year in the Northeast.
  • Led by California, the West fell sharply in January (down 0.69 percent), and is now the weakest region for small business job gains.
  • At 99.13, the South is the strongest region for job gains, up 0.26 percent in January.

Regional Wage Report 

  • The West leads in hourly earnings and hours worked growth, with weekly earnings accelerating for the 12th consecutive month to 4.35 percent in January.
  • Due to an increase in hours worked, weekly earnings are on the rise in the Midwest, up to 2.81 percent this January compared to 1.97 percent in January 2019.

State Jobs Index

  • Fourteen of the 20 states reported an increase in the pace of employment growth in January.
  • Down 1.13 percent from the previous month and 2.47 percent from last year, California now has the lowest index among states at 96.67.
  • Tennessee and Arizona are the only states above 100.

Note: Analysis is provided for the 20 largest states based on U.S. population.

State Wage Report

  • New York, California, and Tennessee lead wage growth among states.
  • Paired with a significant decline in job growth, California is the top state for weekly hours worked and weekly earnings growth.
  • Texas trails all states in hourly and weekly earnings growth, 1.50 percent and 2.18 percent, respectively.

Note: Analysis is provided for the 20 largest states based on U.S. population.

Metropolitan Jobs Index 

  • Phoenix became the top metro for small business job growth in January as Dallas slowed for the sixth consecutive month.
  • The Southern California metros of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego had the three weakest one-month growth rates among metros.

Note: Analysis is provided for the 20 largest metro areas based on U.S. population.

Metropolitan Wage Report

  • San Francisco (4.25 percent) and Los Angeles (4.23 percent) are the only metros with hourly earnings growth above four percent.
  • At 3.77 percent, hourly earnings growth is surging in Baltimore.
  • Houston (1.16 percent) and Tampa (1.26 percent) trail significantly in hourly earnings growth.

 Note: Analysis is provided for the 20 largest metro areas based on U.S. population.

Industry Jobs Index

  • All industry sectors saw growth in January, except Leisure and Hospitality, down 0.53 percent.
  • Trade, Transportation, and Utilities and Manufacturing remain below 97, though both reported positive gains during the past three months.

Note: Analysis is provided for seven major industry sectors. Definitions of each industry sector can be found here. The Other Services (excluding Public Administration) industry category includes religious, civic, and social organizations, as well as personal services, including automotive and household repair, salons, drycleaners, and other businesses.

Industry Wage Report  

  • At 5.12 percent, Leisure and Hospitality leads hourly earnings growth among sectors, with Manufacturing a distant second at 3.61 percent.
  • Education and Health Services trails all other sectors in hourly earnings growth at 1.56 percent.
  • Construction slowed below three percent hourly earnings growth in December for the first time in 2019, and fell further in January to 2.71 percent.

Note: Analysis is provided for seven major industry sectors. Definitions of each industry sector can be found here. The Other Services (excluding Public Administration) industry category includes religious, civic, and social organizations, as well as personal services, including automotive and household repair, salons, drycleaners, and other businesses.

For more information about the Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch, visit www.paychex.com/employment-watch and sign up to receive monthly Employment Watch alerts.

*Information regarding the professions included in the industry data can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

About the Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch
The Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch is released each month by Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of payroll, human resource, insurance, and benefits outsourcing solutions for small-to medium-sized businesses, and IHS Markit, a world leader in critical information, analytics, and expertise. Focused exclusively on small business, the monthly report offers analysis of national employment and wage trends, as well as examines regional, state, metro, and industry sector activity. Drawing from the payroll data of approximately 350,000 Paychex clients, this powerful tool delivers real-time insights into the small business trends driving the U.S. economy.

About Paychex
Paychex, Inc. (NASDAQ: PAYX) is a leading provider of integrated human capital management solutions for human resources, payroll, benefits, and insurance services. By combining its innovative software-as-a-service technology and mobility platform with dedicated, personal service, Paychex empowers small- and medium-sized business owners to focus on the growth and management of their business. Backed by more than 45 years of industry expertise, Paychex serves approximately 670,000 payroll clients as of May 31, 2019 across more than 100 locations in the U.S. and Europe, and pays one out of every 12 American private sector employees. Learn more about Paychex by visiting www.paychex.com, and stay connected on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About IHS Markit (www.ihsmarkit.com)
IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The company delivers next-generation information, analytics and solutions to customers in business, finance and government, improving their operational efficiency and providing deep insights that lead to well-informed, confident decisions. IHS Markit has more than 50,000 business and government customers, including 80 percent of the Fortune Global 500 and the world’s leading financial institutions. Headquartered in London, IHS Markit is committed to sustainable, profitable growth.

IHS Markit is a registered trademark of IHS Markit Ltd. and/or its affiliates. All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners © 2020 IHS Markit Ltd. All rights reserved.

The decline seen in small business employment growth during the first half of 2019 has given way to hiring stability over the past two quarters.

View photos

 

The decline seen in small business employment growth during the first half of 2019 has given way to hiring stability over the past two quarters.

Weekly earnings growth reached 3.59 percent, improving for the 13th straight month.

View photos
Weekly earnings growth reached 3.59 percent, improving for the 13th straight month.

Insurance Three Card Monte

Happiest of New Years!

“At present, the state of Florida is considering legislation to close “the gap in coverage issue” that they understand as a PEO issue and not an overall issue in general. It is unfortunate that once again they have targeted a specific industry for an issue that is much bigger than the PEO industry. The issue at hand is employers not providing workers compensation for their employees, whether it be through a PEO or not. This has been an issue for years, which is why I re-post the below to make sure everyone understands what the real issue is. Another thank you to Jon Coppelman, with Workers Comp Insider, for allowing me to express my opinion.” – Paul Hughes

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

We are very proud of our PEO client’s ethical fabric, sophistication and professionalism.  We consider them family.

Logic would suggest statute, insurance departments and credit rating organizations each play a vital role in how my profession as an insurance agent is governed as well as the insurance carrier community of any given state.  The process of formal governance for insurance carriers involves the issuance, and ongoing management of “Certificates of Authority”.  This process ensures that only good people with enough money and who have proved to have the management team and platform to operate an insurer are allowed to. What types of products are allowed in the given state for any specific carrier fall on statute; which is then administered through the authorities granted that carrier.  Unfortunately, I know of no state where a different size or solvency level needs to be in place to have the authority to offer a large deductible.

Just three years ago, (seven now), author Jon Coppelman was kind enough to allow me a rebuttal to an article inferring that it was the PEO community that rendered another insurance carrier insolvent.

The full story here… my piece below:

http://www.workerscompinsider.com/2012/05/risk-transfer-a-1.html

Follow Up – June 7, 2012

After posting, I received a call from Paul Hughes, CEO of Risk Transfer (now Libertate Insurance Services, LLC), who is quoted above. While not contesting the premise that large deductibles are poorly managed in Florida (and elsewhere), he believes that I unfairly singled out PEOs in the blog. The fundamental issue is the failure of the state to adequately regulate and oversee large deductible programs. I agree.

Please take a few moments to read Paul’s response, which employs the useful metaphor of a casino for the risk transfer industry:

“The core issue to me is the role of the regulator versus the business owner in the management of the “casino” (insurance marketplace). That is one of the parts of Jon’s article in Workers Comp Insider that blurs the line a bit on what the PEO’s role is within the casino and whose job it is to set the rules. The casino is the State as they certify the dealers to play workers’ compensation (Carriers, MGU’s, MGA’s, Agents and Brokers) and the State also certifies that the players are credible (not convicted of insurance fraud) and can pay/play by the rules of the house. The rules are set by the house and the games all require public filings – ability to write workers’ compensation (certificate of authority), ability to offer a large deductible plan (large deductible filings), agent license, agency license, adjusters license and any other deviation from usual business practices (like the allegations that one now defunct insurance carrier illegally charged surplus notes to desperate PEO’s in the hardest market the industry has ever seen). The “three-card monte” that Jon alludes to in this article is managed not by the dealers (carriers), but by the house (state). Would a real life casino consider it prudent to allow one of their dealers to expose 20% of their $5m in surplus through high deductibles sold to PEO’s with minimal financial underwriting and inadequate collateralization? Would any casino write harder to place (severity-driven) clients to include USL&H, roofers etc with the minimum amount of surplus needed to even operate a carrier…? Of course not. These “big boy” bets would never be allowed in Vegas without the pockets being deep enough to cover the losses.”

Unfortunately, it is 2015 and no states that I know of have large deductible language that addresses the inherent credit risk of the product.  A few more carriers have gone insolvent as a result of this specific issue, many policyholders with lost collateral and deposit instruments and and the claims continue to pile up on the guaranty funds.  The easy scapegoat is the PEO or Staffing Services policyholder, yet in these cases they were the consumer of a very highly sophisticated financial services product.  Taking a $1m position on your workers’ compensation program is taking a bet on 90% of your expected losses.  This is an extreme shift that deserves more attention by the regulators that manage the product.  The carrier then takes the additional bet that the losses are going to be what is expected and that the entity buying the policy will be an “ongoing concern” for the 7-10 year payout pattern associated with the payment of workers’ compensation claims.  AM Best does not factor credit risk on earned premiums so that $50m of manual premiums becomes $10-15m after the application of the deductible credit.  If the expected losses under the deductible are not properly collateralized,  “A” and “B” companies on paper one day are in run off the next.

Logic would tell us that taxpayers should not have to bail out states that create law and the insurance companies that profit under it.   Rules around credit risk for loss sensitive workers’ compensation plans must be addressed or logic will tell us the same scapegoats will keep being the target with the same issues not prevented in the future.

A 7.5% Workers’ Compensation Rate Decrease Has Been Approved By The OIR

HOT OFF THE PRESS from our friends at NAPEO!

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –  Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier has issued a Final Order granting approval to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) for a statewide overall decrease of 7.5% for Florida workers’ compensation insurance rates. This applies to both new and renewal workers’ compensation insurance policies effective in Florida as of January 1, 2020.

“Florida is an ideal place to do business and I am committed to keeping our workforce and economy strong. This decrease in workers’ compensation rates is very good news for employers and one more reason for companies to be located in our great state,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

“Florida businesses are the backbone of our economy and when they see cost savings, our local communities benefit. Affordable workers’ compensation insurance means more workers are protected. It is great to see the costs of this coverage continue to decrease for those businesses who call Florida home,” said CFO Jimmy Patronis.

“I am pleased to issue this order, reducing workers’ compensation rates for Florida’s businesses, providing another year of rate relief. Increased innovation in workplace practices and continued emphasis on safety for employees has meant a decline in the workers’ compensation claims and Florida businesses will see the results of those efforts reflected in their insurance rates,” said Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier.

Commissioner Altmaier approved the NCCI amended rate filing, which met the stipulations of the Order on Rate Filing issued by the Commissioner on October 24, 2019.

For more information about the NCCI public hearing and rate filing, visit OIR’s “NCCI Public Rate Hearing” webpage.​ 

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has primary responsibility for regulation, compliance and enforcement of statutes related to the business of insurance and the monitoring of industry markets. For more information about OIR, please visit our website or follow us on Twitter @FLOIR_comm.

Sponsored by Libertate Insurance Services, LLC