Parent Company of PEO Carrier Key Risk Reports Another Strong Quarter!

Kudos to our friends at W.R. Berkley for a stellar Q2! So happy they are a part of our PEO community.

W.R. Berkley Corp. reported net premium growth exceeding 27 percent and a combined ratio under 90 for the 2021 second quarter, positive results the commercial lines insurer and reinsurer attributed to rate adequacy and an improving economy.

Consolidated net premiums written during Q2 surpassed $2.2 billion, up from $1.7 billion in the 2020 second quarter.

The company booked net income of more than $237 million in Q2 versus $71.2 million a year ago.

Additionally, net investment income jumped nearly 97 percent to $169.2 million during the quarter.

The company said that its rate increases continue to outpace loss costs, with new products also helping to achieve or exceed its targeted rate levels. During the quarter, W.R. Berkley focused on exposure growth and business expansion, and it said the strategy should help lead to additional underwriting profits down the line.

W.R. Berkley’s consolidated combined ratio was 89.7 during the quarter, compared to 98.7 a year ago.

W.R. Berkley even produced gains for workers’ compensation, which had average rate increases of just under 10 percent.

Commercial auto and casualty reinsurance also saw large premium increases. Professional liability was among the largest gainers, jumping to $287 million in net premiums written during Q2, versus $174.2 million the year before.

Current accident year insurance losses from catastrophes, including COVID-related losses, landed at $36.8 billion during the quarter, improved from $114 million in the 2020 second quarter. Reinsurance and monoline excess losses were just under $7.2 million, compared to $31.8 million a year ago.

Source: W.R. Berkley

This is Why You Should Double Check Your Cyber Insurance Policy

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Whether a business is in healthcare, accounting, legal, real estate, manufacturing, etc., most of a business’ important assets are digital. (Government municipalities are included too.) To make matters complicated, it’s very common for these digital assets to be stored in various systems and locations, intertwined with a third party’s digital information. With so many opportunities for disaster, steps must be taken to insure this critical information.

Cyber insurance is a new frontier that is rapidly evolving as the industry gets its bearings. Many companies are finding that their current cyber policies have very minimal coverage in case of a cyber breach, and the majority of these policies will not come close to providing the necessary breach coverages to the business or municipality.

When looking at your existing or new cyber policy, it’s important to consider these types of coverages:


As we have come to realize, the idea that security starts and ends with the purchase of a pre-packed firewall is simply misguided

Art Wittman

1. Privacy Breach Notification

Some reports estimate the notification and credit monitoring costs alone are over $100 per record, so if you had 1,000 compromised records, this alone could cost $100,000 or more.

2.Data Loss Restoration

Believe it or not, many large insurance carriers have policy exclusions for the replacement and restoration of data, so be very careful in this area when reviewing your policy.

3. Privacy Liability

This covers for the theft or loss of private information related to customers and other third-party information that is in your care.

4. Regulatory and PCI Defense

Many industries are under strict regulatory control, and breaches may result in fines and other penalties from these regulatory agencies.

5. Public Relations

If an enterprise has a breach, the bad press they receive can do significant long term reputational damage and can also be used by competitors to their advantage. This coverage will help hire a public relations firm to mitigate the reputational damage your name brand might incur.

6. Cyber Crime

If your organization is threatened with various cyber threats such as malicious code that will result in financial loss or data loss, this coverage is needed for the reimbursement of the costs associated with these threats.

7. Defense and Settlement costs

A breach affecting a lot of customers may result in lawsuits and financial settlements, so insurance coverage is needed to offset these potentially enormous costs.

8. Consulting and Forensic Fees

If a breach does occur, the upfront investigative process will require a lot of professional expertise and a lot of money, and this specific coverage will offset these significant costs.

9. Business Continuity

If a hack causes your business to lose income, this coverage will reimburse you for these losses.

It takes 20 years to build a brand or company reputation and a few minutes within a cyber incident to ruin it

Stephane Nappo

For a free cyber insurance policy evaluation, contact Libertate Insurance today at 813-367-7574 or email me, James Buscarini at jbuscarini@libertateins.com.

Our professionals are happy to review and discuss your firm’s existing cyber liability insurance policy and the relation to your unique business requirements, needs and cyber coverage. Our goal is to help your PEO and client companies navigate the cyber liability insurance landscape and identify potential vulnerabilities that could be exposed based on your existing technology network and infrastructure. Finally, we want to make sure that in the event of a ransomware attack, business email compromise or phishing expedition your firm has adequate coverage in each of the areas that you might be vulnerable to be targeted in.

Benefits of Utilizing Post-Offer Medical Questionnaires in Your Hiring Practices

Prescient National produced this thought provoking look at how to effectively use Post-Offer Medical Questionnaires as a part of your hiring practices. The original post can be found by clicking here.

When companies think of managing their Workers’ Compensation costs, several key programs may come to mind. For example, Early Return to Work, Post-Accident Drug Testing, and establishing a network of medical providers have become second nature in the course of doing business.  While these post-claim activities will reduce costs after a claim has been filed, preventing a loss starts with strong hiring practices.

A comprehensive hiring program contains several standard components, such as pre-employment drug screening, criminal background checks, and reference checks. But perhaps none are more important than the Post-Offer Medical Questionnaire (POMQ). As health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and previous surgeries continue to contribute to Workers’ Compensation costs, employers who incorporate the POMQ can rest easy knowing they’ve taken every step necessary to ensure that employees can perform the essential functions of the job, without endangering themselves or others.

What is a POMQ and How Does it Mitigate Potential Injuries?

The POMQ is a document with questions about a prospective employee’s prior medical history.  The POMQ helps an employer understand if the individual will be able to complete the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation. Its goal is to help match the candidate to the physical requirements of the job and prevent putting an employee in a job that could be unsafe for him or her, other employees, and the company. It’s good stewardship. 

Let’s use an example to illustrate:  An employer in the home healthcare industry employs nurses who travel from one home to another to provide care. The company conducts pre-employment drug screening, motor vehicle record checks, as well as criminal background checks and reference checks, but it does not use a POMQ as part of its hiring practices.  One day, while making a sandwich for a client, an employee bends over to pick up a piece of silverware that has fallen off the counter. When he stands up, he feels pain in his lower back and decides to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. When the claim is received by the insurance carrier, it is determined that the employee has had two prior back surgeries and that picking up the piece of silverware has aggravated his pre-existing back condition. After a doctor’s assessment, the employee is scheduled for a third back surgery, which will cost approximately $100,000. It is estimated that this claim alone will increase the employer’s experience modification rate from a 1.00 to a 1.50, which will cost the firm $500,000 in additional Workers’ Compensation premiums over the next three years. The employer was shocked to learn of the employee’s prior health condition and is frustrated that the employee cannot return to a “light duty” job, because the employee has been written completely out of work.  Additionally, the employer is worried that the employee was placed in a position that required lifting and walking assistance for an elderly client, and wonder about future lawsuits from “negligent hiring” practices.

In the example above, the employer could benefit greatly from the effective use of a POMQ.  Uncovering the prospective employee’s prior back surgeries would have allowed the employer to make a well-informed hiring decision, which would protect both the employee and its client population from injuries. For the POMQ to be “effective”, an employer must follow the rules of its use.

How to Use the POMQ

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are allowed to conduct medical inquiries of prospective employees as long as certain rules are followed. First, the document can only be used after a job offer has been made (i.e., “post-offer”), but before the employee is placed into the job. This means, for example, an employer cannot ask an applicant to complete a POMQ while filling out an application. Just as with background checks and drug tests, POMQs can also be part of the contingent post-offer process, but only if all new employees in the same job category are required to complete a POMQ.  All information on the POMQ is protected health information and must be handled responsibly (typically by HR), kept confidential, and secured separately. 

An applicant must be provided with a copy of the written job description that outlines the physical requirements of the job. The questions on the POMQ must be “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” This means that the job must contain physical exertion that has been documented and is essential. It also means that employers cannot inquire about any family medical history. The job description in our home healthcare scenario, for example, may require employees in the position to be able to lift 50 lbs. The POMQ will include a question related to the amount of weight an individual can comfortably lift unassisted. If the candidate is unable to meet this requirement, the employer will solicit a medical opinion and provide the doctor with a copy of the written job description. The candidate can meet with his or her own physician or with the company physician to determine if the job requirement can be met and what, if any, accommodations can be made to meet those requirements.  

Depending on the physician’s medical assessment, the employer (assisted by feedback from the candidate), must determine if the recommended “reasonable accommodation(s)” can be made to enable the candidate to meet the essential requirements of the job. This may involve modifying the job, if possible, or purchasing additional equipment to help with the task, depending on whether this is a reasonable expectation for the business to undertake. If no reasonable accommodation is available, an employer can withdraw the offer. 

POMQ Red Flags

There are certain red flags to look for in a POMQ. Ensure that every question on the POMQ is answered. Often, we see a candidate forget to complete a question or perhaps even refuse to answer a question. All questions should be addressed to avoid potential issues down the road. Look carefully to see if the candidate documents something that doesn’t match with the requirements of the job to address any discrepancies or potential problems. Also, make sure the document is signed by the candidate. 

Note: If a candidate is untruthful on the POMQ and aggravates a pre-existing injury on the job, in many states the claim may be denied. In most cases, the injury/aggravation must be to the same body part where he or she suffered a prior injury which was not disclosed. Typically, it must also be established that the employer would not have hired the employee if he or she had indeed disclosed the prior injury and the injury would not have allowed him or her to safely perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

At Prescient National, we believe that well-informed hiring decisions drive down costs and improve employers’ profitability. Used correctly, a POMQ is a good tool to optimize employee safety and to help mitigate potential claims. Hiring employees fit for duty is productive for the staff, insulates an employer from legal liability, and enhances safety throughout the organization.

Interesting Tidbits for Your Week!

Expecting the Unexpected for Your Small Business. Common insurance types for small businesses.

For better or worse is generally a term related to marriage vows, but in business its just as important! Luckily for business owners there are ways to mitigate the risks associated with the “worse.” Pie Insurance recently released an article covering the types of common insurance for small businesses as well as some not so common options like a business owner’s policy (BOP); I thought it was worth sharing.

A Business Owner’s policy can include professional liability insurance (errors and omissions insurance), a commercial umbrella policy, employment practices liability insurance, directors and offices liability insurance and terrorism insurance. You can check out the full article here. The key to insurance is never needing it, but having it in place when you do. It can make the difference in saving your company when the unexpected happens. Contact us at Libertate Insurance, we can help.

1st Qtr 2021 Small Business Data

NAPEO issued small business snapshot data on Q1 of 2021. Check out the full review here.

High points from the data include:

Percentage change of Daily Small Business Revenue from January 2020 to January 2021 showing 50% decrease in revenues at April 1, 2020 with slowing increase about 31% overall increase at January 1, 2021. Small businesses are slowly pulling back.

Job losses in the United States are reported at 9.6 million; with the expected hardest hit industry of Leisure and Hospitality accounting for nearly 40% of all loss reported.

On a state by state analysis the numbers are showing more increase than decrease with the average unemployment rate reporting at 5.6% at the close of February 2021. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). Overall jobless rates are down in 23 states as of March and higher in only 4.

US Small Business Administration (SBA) Updates

If your business previously received the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance from the SBA for less than $10,000, the SBA is allowing applicants to re-apply to receive the full amount of the advance up to $10,000.

If your business was also a recipient of the EIDL these loans were previously limited to six months of economic injury up to a maximum of $150,000; the SBA has announced a change that will allow loan limits up to 24 months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000. Be advised and proceed with caution, as the SBA takes security interest in the business assets for loan amounts over $25,000.

The SBA is also sending out emails to the EIDL loan recipients extending the first payment due on the EIDL loans to 2022 for loans issued in 2020. The first payment due date is extended 24 months from the date on the note. They have indicated that 2021 loans will have initial payments due 18 months from the note date. Interest continues to accrue during the deferment period.

Follow these instructions if you wish to request a loan increase:

  • Send email to CovidEIDLIncreaseRequests@sba.gov
  • Use subject line “EIDL Increase Request for [insert your 10-digit application number]”
  • Be sure to include in the body of your email identifying information for your current loan including application number, loan number, business name, business address, business owner name(s), and phone number.

Important: Do not include any financial documents or tax records with your initial request. You will receive a follow up email notification if we need additional documents.

You can check out all of the updates for offerings available from the SBA here.

History of Workers’ Compensation

AND last but not least, for those insurance nerds, another very interesting release from Pie Insurance is a history of workers’ compensation insurance. Covering where the laws stand today, where it started and how it has changed the benefits to workers in the United States. Interesting and educational read, check it out here.

Be sure to check out our continual updates here, on PEO Compass, regarding Florida’s House Bill 1305 and its impact on workers’ compensation and the PEO industry.

Insurance Rates Will Continue to Rise in 2021

See below from Business Insurance. The newest line of insurance to join the ‘rates are increasing’ club is workers’ compensation…..

Property/casualty insurance buyers, who have endured price hikes for more than a year in many cases, will likely see rate increases extending into 2021, with some lines continuing to see double-digit rate hikes, experts say.

The size of the increases could be blunted, however, as the hardening market draws new capital and insurers looking to take advantage of the rising tide.

recent survey by brokerage Alera Group Inc., which included insurers, wholesalers and Alera’s agent and broker affiliates, showed an average forecasted rate increase across all lines of 11.6% next year, with increases ranging from a high of 17.5% for medical malpractice insurance to a low of 4.7% for workers compensation.

The survey was conducted in the third quarter, said Mark Englert, national property and casualty leader at Alera in New York. He said the increases are driven by insurers’ attempts to return lines to profitability.

“When you start to go by line of business, you can see why some lines are more aggressive in the request for rate,” Mr. Englert said.

Workers comp, for example, has been profitable for insurers since 2012, and showed an underwriting profit from 2015 to 2019. By contrast, commercial auto was unprofitable from 2015 to 2019 and generated underwriting losses from 2012 through 2019.

In addition, low interest rates have restricted insurers’ ability to make up for underwriting losses with investment income. “Investment income is challenged, so what you are seeing in the carrier community is a real need to drive strong underwriting results,” Mr. Englert said.

Insurers’ “books were not profitable,” said Renee Dube, vice president, national property and casualty practice, in Valhalla, New York, for USI Insurance Services LLC.

In its recently published outlook for the commercial property/casualty market for the fourth quarter of this year and the first half of 2021, USI forecasts that at one end of the pricing spectrum workers comp could rise up to 5%, while at the other end public company directors and officers insurance liability rates may see increases of up to 100%.

The hard market “will probably last for some time,” said J. Paul Newsome Jr., Chicago-based managing director at investment brokerage Piper Sandler Cos.

Mr. Newsome noted, however, that higher rates and premiums are attracting fresh capital, which could help slow rate increases. “Private equity has been quick to try to build new companies, and this might reduce the length of the hard market,” he said.

“Challenging conditions continue to exist across most coverage lines in the U.S., but especially in the umbrella/excess casualty and directors and officers liability market,” said Christopher Lang, global placement leader, U.S. and Canada, for Marsh LLC in New York, in a statement emailed to Business Insurance. “We expect these conditions to persist into 2021.” 

Next year should see “persistent rate increases and solid core underwriting margin expansion for most commercial, especially specialty, insurance lines and for reinsurance,” according to a Dec. 18 report from Meyer Shields, Baltimore-based managing director at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.

“Heightened property and casualty loss cost inflation, pressured investment yields, and rising reinsurance costs should support enduring rate increases for most commercial lines,” he said in the report.

Sunz Holdings Announces Significant Investment from Blackstone Tactical Opportunities

Congrats to our friends at Sunz!!

Bradenton, Fla. (Dec. 23, 2020) – SUNZ Holdings, LLC (“SUNZ”) announced today that funds managed by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities (“Blackstone”) have acquired a significant stake in the company to help fuel SUNZ’s continued expansion. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

SUNZ is a leading provider of workers compensation insurance and related services such as policy administration, claims administration and customer support. SUNZ delivers technologically advanced solutions for its customers – with a specialized focus on risk sharing programs for Professional Employer Organizations, staffing companies and large organizations.

Menes Chee, a Senior Managing Director at Blackstone, said, “SUNZ is exceptionally well positioned for future growth. Blackstone is excited to partner with their first-rate management team to help the company continue to expand into new markets and verticals so it can best serve its customers.”

Steve Herrig, CEO of SUNZ, said, “This partnership should propel SUNZ to a new level by enabling us to pursue new market opportunities and expand our national footprint. We look forward to a synergistic collaboration with Blackstone and to further accelerating the expansion of our specialized programs.”

About SUNZ Holdings, LLC

SUNZ Holdings, LLC is the parent company of SUNZ Insurance, a national workers’ compensation
insurance company headquartered in Bradenton, Florida. SUNZ Insurance develops unique workers’ compensation programs that deliver innovative and tailored solutions to protect businesses and their employees. SUNZ understands its clients need for fluidity, offering workers’ compensation insurance options that do not begin and end with the printed policy. SUNZ believes that a safe work environment and healthy workforce is the foundation for a successful business. There are several affiliate companies within the SUNZ Holdings enterprise that provide related and ancillary services to the workers compensation insurance industry. These companies include Next Level Administrators, WatchPoint, Avalon Subrogation Partners, and Ascential Care Partners. For more information, visit www.sunzinsurance.com.

About Blackstone

Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms. We seek to create positive economic impact and long- term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Our $584 billion in assets under management include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, life sciences, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com. Follow Blackstone on Twitter @Blackstone.

About Tactical Opportunities

Tactical Opportunities (Tac Opps) is Blackstone’s opportunistic investment platform. The Tac Opps team invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies, seeking to identify and execute on attractive, differentiated investment opportunities. As part of the strategy, the team leverages the intellectual capital across Blackstone’s various businesses while continuously optimizing its approach in the face of ever-changing market conditions.

Contacts

Blackstone
Matt Anderson
+1-212-390-2472 matthew.anderson@blackstone.com ###

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!

California Workers’ Comp COVID-19 Claim Count Tops 50,000

Below is a quick COVID update from workerscompensation.com regarding COVID claims in California. Let’s hope this downward trend continues!

Oakland, CA (WorkersCompensation.com) – The California workers’ compensation COVID-19 monthly claim count may have peaked in July, but the latest tally by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) shows that as of November 2, there have been 50,592 COVID-19 claims reported to the state Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) so far this year – including 282 death claims. That translates to 1 out of every 9 California job injury claims reported for accident year (AY) 2020.

The latest figures show that after climbing rapidly over the first 7 months of this year and hitting a record 14,453 claims in July, the number of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims reported to the DWC began to dwindle. The updated count shows 6,710 claims with August injury dates, 3,779 claims with September injury dates, and 2,016 claims with October injury dates. A significant number of claims from September and October could still be reported, but the initial claim counts from both these months were well below the early counts from June and July, so even accounting for the reporting lag associated with COVID-19 claims, those figures suggest a significant downtrend. Using claim development factors based on historical claim development from 2019 and the fluctuating development pattern for 2020 COVID-19 claims, CWCI now projects that there could ultimately be 15,786 COVID-19 claims with July injury dates, 6,910 claims with August injury dates, 4,535 claims with September injury dates, and 5,242 claims with October injury dates, which puts the projected number of COVID-19 claims for the first 10 months of AY 2020 at 57,833. Notably, denial rates for COVID-19 claims have stabilized within a narrow range, holding between 28.7 percent and 31.3 percent from April through August, while denial data on September and October claims is still too green for analysis as many of those claims remain under investigation. The distribution by industry shows that COVID-19 claims remain heavily concentrated among a small number of industry sectors, with more than three quarters of the claims from the first 10 months of this year involving workers in health care (37.1 percent); public safety/government (15.0 percent); manufacturing (8.3 percent); retail (7.9 percent); transportation (5.1 percent), and food service (4.4 percent).

The data on claims reported through October is included in the latest update to CWCI’s COVID-19 and Non-COVID-19 Interactive Claim Application, an online tool that integrates data from CWCI, the DWC, and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics to provide detailed information on California workers’ comp claims from comparable periods of 2019 and 2020. The new version features data on 1,047,448 claims from the first 10 months of AY 2019 and AY 2020, including the 50,592 COVID-19 claims reported for AY 2020. As of November 2, the DWC had received reports on 458,941 workers’ compensation claims with January through October 2020 injury dates, which even with the COVID-19 claims, was 22 percent less than the total reported for the corresponding period of 2019, or 12.5 percent less after factoring in the projected claim development for AY 2020. The decline in the overall claim count reflects the economic slowdown and declining employment, as well as the millions of Californians who continue to work from home.

CWCI updates its COVID-19/Non-COVID 19 data app with new data every two weeks and plans to expand its features as more data on claim type and systemwide costs become available. The application is available to the public here.