MGU Updates: New Carrier Partners for 2021

Two of the MGU (Managing General Underwriter) partners we work with have announced new carrier partnerships for 2021. Read the exciting news below.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance MGU Method Adds Falls Lake as New Carrier

Method, a Managing General Underwriter wholly focused on Workers’ Compensation Insurance, has announced the addition of the Falls Lake National Insurance Company to its roster of carrier options.

Falls Lake is rated A XI (Excellent) by AM Best and covers 23 states mostly concentrated in the eastern half of the United States.

“We’re excited to partner with the great team at Falls Lake to dramatically expand options for our customers east of the Mississippi.” said Greg Donsbach, President of Method.

Falls Lake shares a similar, broad risk appetite to Method’s existing carriers, Incline Casualty and Service American Indemnity Company.

“Falls Lake is pleased to partner with Method for this new product which combines Method’s industry-leading claims management protocols with Falls Lakes’ risk-driven underwriting philosophies.” said Paul Kearns, Senior Vice President of Underwriting at Falls Lake.

FUBA Adds Second A- Rated Carrier

FUBA Workers’ Comp now has underwriting authority with two insurance carriers that are rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best. Effective 1/1/21, Service Lloyds Insurance Company will become part of the FUBA family. Service Lloyds is a workers’ compensation specialist with almost four decades in the market. 

New business with effective dates through 12/31/20 will continue to be placed with Lancer Indemnity Company and will stay with Lancer for the first policy term. 

New business with effective dates of 1/1/21 and after will be placed with Service Lloyds. 

As your clients’ policies come up for renewal, we will transfer them from Lancer Indemnity Company to Service Lloyds. No action is needed on your part; the transfer will be automatic and seamless. The Service Lloyds policies will replace the policies from Lancer, and your clients will keep the same policy number.  

FUBA is pleased to be able to continue to offer stable and rated coverage to your small business clients.

Friday the 13th! Weekly Round Up

Did you know that Friday the 13th occurs in any month that begins on a Sunday? Quite simple math but I never really thought about it! The fear of Friday the 13th affects an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute. However, studies on accident trends show that fewer accidents are reported on this day, as people are likely more cautious and limit travel and activities. You can find more interesting tidbits on the history of Friday the 13th at Earthsky.org

Here are our highlights from the week

Veteran’s Day 2020

The United States just honored its Veterans with the observance of Veteran’s Day. The anniversary of Veteran’s Day marks the end of World War I back in 1918. Originally coined as Armistice Day, to reflect the signing of the armistice between the Allies of World War I and Germany, was renamed Veteran’s Day in 1954 to honor all those that have served in the U.S. Military. November 11th is also celebrated by other countries as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day. While times have certainly changed for our Country since the early 1900’s, I thought sharing the below quote from President Woodrow Wilson, on the first anniversary of such an important day, was fitting for the times.

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.” You can find more on the History of Veteran’s Day, here at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is also always accepting donations and volunteers. Learn more on how you can show thanks and give back, year-round, to those whom have given us so much.

MilitaryBenefits.info has put together a listing of the 2020 Veteran’s Day Free Meals and Deals for those of our Veterans reading this post, many of them throughout the week and month of November.

To all Veterans, We thank you for your sacrifice, your bravery, and our freedom.

Hot for PEOs and Small Business

AllRisks is pushing their Self-Storage Facility Program in light of non-renewal trends related to program administrators losing their markets. AllRisks has been providing solutions for storage-related exposures including products for boat/RV storage operators, self-storage facilities and converted buildings. They have 2 exclusive Self-Storage Programs with National Capabilities. AllRisks offers over 30 National Specialty Insurance Programs ranging from Amusement Insurance to Tattoo Shops. Contact Libertate Insurance today for more information.

PIE Insurance released updates of important need to know facts about workers compensation claims fraud and how to protect your business. Types of workers’ comp insurance fraud fall into three categories:

1- Employees committing claim-related fraud by fabricating details surrounding an injury. Injury claim indicates injury happened at work in the warehouse, when it really happened on a ski trip over the weekend

2- Employers may engage in policy-related fraud by falsely reporting employees as contractors or by improper employee classification; i.e. admin desk position is reported when employee is actually a warehouse worker performing manual labor

3- Healthcare professionals can commit medical provider fraud by performing unnecessary services to collect insurance payments, fraudulent billing or partaking in kick-back programs

Workers’ comp fraud has historically cost between $6 and $7 billion dollars each year based on estimates from CAIF (Coalition Against Insurance Fraud) and the NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau). Insurance fraud is a white-collar crime and can lead to fines and imprisonment, and increased premiums and penalties for small businesses. The Claims Journal issued an article in August of 2020, indicating that with COVID-19 the California Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau is estimating annual losses in the state of $1.2 billion, extrapolated nationally approximating $5 billion. The plan to combat fraud? Data! Insurers are accessing cross-payer, multi-year claims data to identify repeat claimants, attorneys and medical providers.

How do we protect ourselves and our businesses? Educate and Document!

  • Be forthcoming about physical requirements and hazards of the job
  • Educate employees as to the proper way to lift, pull, and carry objects
  • Provide training on work-related hazards, exposure risks, and safety equipment
  • Inform employees and new hires about a zero-tolerance policy for false claims
  • Teach employees how workers’ comp works and how to correctly report injuries
  • Provide a safe way for employees to report suspicious workers’ comp activity
  • Maintain and report accurate records regarding employee roles and numbers

This is great HR information to help support businesses and mitigate risk. If you have questions or are limited in your HR resources contact Libertate Insurance today, we can help.

NAPEO released its November 2020 edition of PEO Insider, for members. Interesting Featured Articles in this month’s release include Q&A on State Legislative and Regulatory Trends, Non-COVID-19 Developments in the States, What PEOs Need to Know About the SECURE (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act, and so much more. Take a few minutes and dive into some of these interesting and useful articles. NAPEO is a great organization for all things PEO.

NAPEO also hosted an online webinar last night, for members, going over the 2020 Election and what’s next! Georgia and Washington are in recount and lawsuits have been filed in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada as well as Pennsylvania.

Notable key dates in the upcoming months:

December 8th – states are required to settle all disputes

December 14th – Electoral College meets at state level and votes for President

January 6th – Joint Session of Congress counts electoral votes and declares a winner

January 21st – President is sworn in

If you are not currently a member of NAPEO, visit their site here and learn how to join.

Weekend in Sports

There are a ton of football events continuing this weekend with football seemingly back in full swing. South Alabama vs Louisiana, Notre Dame vs. Boston College, Miami vs. Virginia Tech, USC vs. Arizona, Florida State vs. NC State and the list continues, hope you have the opportunity to catch your favorite team. For our NFL roster Kansas City comes in the first ranking spot for week 10, they have a bye week so we won’t be able to watch them play this weekend. The next highest ranking teams are Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Pittsburgh squares off against Cincinnati 4:25pm ET catch them on FOX and Baltimore will battle New England at 8:20pm (ET) available on NBC. Find more on your favorites here at ESPN.com

Have a Great Weekend Everyone!

When Robert Hartwig Talks, People Listen…

As I was pulling this post together, for good reason, the old EF Hutton commercials we grew up with (dating myself)…

…came to mind. “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”…

As EF Hutton was considered (or at least advertised) as “the smartest guy in room” for all things investments; the same holds true for Robert Hartwig @Bob_Hartwig when it comes to insurance economics. He is the guy insurance company CEO’s call to help predict the future and someone I have had the pleasure to meet and see present on a few occasions. You will not see anyone provide more data and direction in a short session that is credible and meaningful.

Robert, a PHD/CPCU, was the former Chief Economist of the Insurance Institute of America and currently serves as the Clinical Associate Professor of Finance, Risk Management & Insurance @ USC’s Darla Moore School of Business. His latest presentation points to some areas that are important to understand and budget for.

https://www.uscriskcenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Inland-Marine-UW-Association-American-Institue-of-Marine-Underwriters-9-30-2020.pdf

I have listed some of my key take-aways below and the slide number you can reference for the detail:

Slide 12 – 12.5-25% reduction in workers’ compensation premiums based on rate reductions coupled with drop in exposure basis due to COVID-19. COVID-19 Claims will not be used for rate-making purposes in most states until 2021. All other lines are seeing material drops in written premium due to usage, but rates at the same time are on the rise.

Slide 13 – Range of workers’ compensation losses on a national basis due to presumption is $.2 – $92B … quite a delta and as you will note, and a far greater one than any other line (which are also not yet understood). The range for Business Interruption losses is next with anywhere from $2B – $22B expected. The courts will be the most impactful on where this end result comes in based on policy interpretation. Policy language and intent will be the battlefronts.

Slide 15 – Cost of COVID v comparable pandemics in recent age – the cost and number of countries impacted by COVID-19 versus other pandemics (SIKA, Swine Flu, SARS etc.) is staggering and exponential.

Slide 30 – Presents the investment yield trends for 10-year US Securities which is a foundational “safe” investment for insurance carriers – down 61%. Puts more pressure on operational results which in turn, more pressure on upward pricing.

Slide 31 – 9 of the the top 10 ever point drops on the S and P ever occurred in 2020. The 3’rd largest percentage drop in history occurred on 3/16/20 at -11.98%/-324.9 points. This volatility is of grave concern to the investment strategies of the insurance carrier community. This also puts upward pressure on pricing.

Slide 41 – Business closures will cause debt of $3T for at least a generation to overcome. This is very saddening and a complex issue to make a call on. Be safe and put us in debt for another generation or open up and hope for the best? Question of the century –

Slide 47 – Rates on most lines of insurance (with the exception of Workers’ Compensation) are rising at a rapid pace. Umbrella (20%) and Directors and Officers insurance (16.8%) being hammered the hardest, with Business Interruption (9.7%), Commercial Auto (9.6%) and Employment Practices Liability insurance (9.4%) also expecting hefty increases.

Slide 50 – Business Interruption insurance will be highly litigated going forward, especially on those policies that do not have a pandemic disease exclusion. This and the presumption issue in regard to workers’ compensation are what will cause the greatest uncertainty going forward as to the exposure to the insurance community and how they react as a result the pandemic.

In conclusion, it has been a long cycle of premium reductions. Drop of exposure basis (payrolls, sales, miles travelled etc) may neutralize overall premiums to some extent, but the “as is or lower” rate renewals of the last decade will be very tough to navigate this year. Get out ahead of your renewals, especially on the specialty casualty side. Let us know if we can help.

Lifting Travel Restrictions

As the country slowly starts to reopen and travel restrictions begin to be lifted, it reminds me of how hard the travel industry has been impacted by COVID-19. Finding workers compensation coverage for this industry can be difficult due to the exposures associated with these risks. Libertate Insurance Services works closely with Beacon Aviation in placing coverage for this industry.  Beacon Aviation Insurance Services knows the ins-and-outs and provides workers compensation coverage for general aviation businesses.

Beacon’s Program offers the following:

Payment Options

  • Pay As You Owe
  • Carrier Direct Bill
  • Carrier Direct Debit
  • Credit Card

Endorsement Options

  • Foreign Voluntary Compensation
  • Voluntary Compensation
  • Waiver of Subrogation
  • Defense Base Act (DBA) Coverage
  • Employer Liability Coverage “Stop GAP”

If you need help placing your workers compensation with your travel or aviation risk, contact Jenny Bush, at jbush@libertateins.com. Click the link below for more details on Beacon’s Program.

Beacon Aviation Program Appetite

 

Report: COVID-19 Accounts for 1-in-9 California Workers’ Comp Claims in 2020

Wow — We are seeing a depletion of capacity/increased costs for health care and other “client-facing” industries.  The why —

“CWCI says that brings the total for the year to 41,861 claims, or 11.2% of all California job injury claims reported for accident year 2020. Those claims included 224 death claims, up from 160 reported as of Aug. 10.”

.005 of all claims in California are a COVID19 fatality year to date.  The unknowns are the reopens, adjusted reserves and longevity of the severe and critical patients.  Still much unknown –

September 28, 2020

The California workers’ compensation COVID-19 claim count continued to grow in August, albeit at a much slower rate than in July, with new data showing that as of Sept. 21, the state had recorded 5,130 COVID-19 claims with August injury dates, according to data compiled by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute.

CWCI says that brings the total for the year to 41,861 claims, or 11.2% of all California job injury claims reported for accident year 2020. Those claims included 224 death claims, up from 160 reported as of Aug. 10.

The latest claim count shows that the number of COVID-19 claims reported to the Division of Workers’ Compensation doubled from May to June, then increased another 16% in July. The numbers reported for August, however, fell sharply, even accounting for the lag in the reporting of COVID-19 claims, according to CWCI.

The CWCI projects there could ultimately be 8,208 COVID-19 claims with August injury dates. Given that the latest tally suggests COVID-19 claim volume may have peaked in July, CWCI is now projecting 48,086 COVID-19 claims with January through August injury dates, which is less than the January through July projection from last month.

CWCI reports that the distribution by industry shows health care workers continue to account for the largest share of California’s COVID-19 claims, filing 38.1% of the claims recorded for the first 8 months of this year, followed by public safety/government workers who accounted for 15.8%. Rounding out the top five industries based on COVID-19 claim volume were retail trade (7.6%), manufacturing (7.6%), and transportation (5.0%). In addition, the percentage of denied COVID-19 claims declined to 28.6% from CWCI’s May report of 35.5%.

Related:

NAPEO and How to Price Your Workers’ Compensation Exposure

While this year’s “Super Bowl” for NAPEO was a bit different, I was very impressed in what was put together under the shadow of the pandemic.  Great content and albeit virtually, great to catch up with folks.

My dear friend and colleague Tom Stypla did a lunch and learn on how to price client companies for workers’ compensation that is linked here…

How to Price Your Workers’ Compensation Exposure Final

Tom has priced more PEO business than anyone I know.  His understanding of PEO workers’ compensation is extremely impactful.

If we can help you with an underwriting strategy or an individual client, let us know!  321.217.7477 is my cell….

How much time is an Employer required to give Employees under the FFCRA?

The Florida United Businesses Association (FUBA) released a great Q&A for Employers.  The quick answer is 2 weeks/80 hours, but with everything COVID, we realize that there is generally more behind the scenes.   Here is FUBA’s look into the small print. Great 2 minute read!

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FUBA COVID-19 Update: Can An Employee Get More Than 2 Weeks Of Paid Leave?

Here are the 3 most common questions we get from our small business members about paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA):

1) One of my employees has already used their 2 weeks/80 hours of paid FFCRA leave but now they can’t work because they have COVID-19. Do I have to give them another 2 weeks of paid leave?

No. The FFCRA requires employers give employees 2 weeks (80 hours) of paid leave only if the employee cannot work because of one of these reasons:

  1. The employee has been told to quarantine by a health care provider or by a government order.
  2. The employee has COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a diagnosis (i.e., they are getting a COVID-19 test and are waiting on the results).
  3. The employee must stay home to care for someone who has been quarantined by a health care provider or by a government order.
  4. The employee must stay home to care for a child under 18 whose school or childcare is unavailable due to COVID-19. These employees are also eligible for an additional 10 weeks of paid leave, for a total of 12 weeks’ paid leave.

Employers are only required to give the 2 weeks paid leave one time. Once an employee has used their 2 weeks of paid leave, they don’t get another two weeks even if they meet one of the reasons above.

If one of your employees has used their 2 weeks of paid leave and then gets sick with COVID-19 or has to quarantine because they were exposed to someone with COVID-19, you can decide whether to allow the employee to take unpaid leave or to use any vacation/sick time the employee has. But you do not have to provide another 2 weeks of paid leave under the FFCRA.

The only time employees may get additional paid leave is for reason #4 above: if an employee has to stay home to care for a minor child whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19, they may be entitled to an additional 10 weeks of paid leave.

2) One of my employees took 4 days of paid FFCRA leave last month because he had a COVID-19 test and was waiting on the test results. He returned to work when the test was negative, and we paid him for the 4 days he was out. Now we need him to quarantine because his wife has COVID-19 and we do not want him coming to work for 14 days. Can he now use the 6 remaining days of paid leave?

Yes. The employee is entitled to take the remaining hours of paid leave (6 work days in this example). The rest of the leave can either be unpaid or vacation/sick leave at the employer’s discretion.

3) One of my employees took their 2 weeks (80 hours) of paid FFCRA leave and then was furloughed. We’ve now rehired her and she’s back at work. Does she get another two weeks of paid leave?

No. Employees are only entitled to 80 total hours of paid sick leave under the FFCRA.

If you are a FUBA member and have questions about paid leave in your business, call FUBA’s team of experts at 800-262-4483 or email us with your questions.

For more information about paid leave under the FFCRA, including documentation you should get from your employees who take this leave as well as tax credits for businesses who provide this paid leave, please visit FUBA’s Coronavirus Resources for small businesses:

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/