EPIC Risk Advisory Bulletin

Volume 1, Issue 16

The global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic remains both dynamic and fluid. We continue to see unprecedented disruptions at home and abroad. In this issue, we take a focused look at:

  1. General Information on Coronavirus
  2. Supply Chain and Business Risks
    • Emergency Exemption Extension for Commercial Drivers
  3. Insurance Products and Coverage Information
    • Commercial Property Coverage for Riots
    • Hurricane Preparation Checklist
    • News of Note
  4. Human Resources and Employee Benefits
    • WC Presumptive Compensability Legislation Update
    • Monitoring Remote Workers
  5. Insights from Across the Firm

General Information on Coronavirus

It has been nearly three months since the coronavirus pandemic took the world by storm. So far, more than 7.5 million people have been infected with the virus and at least 422,000 have died.

As summer draws near, restrictions are being lifted, both to alleviate economic pressure and help people resume their pre-pandemic daily activities. Concerns over the timing and severity of a potential second wave remain top of mind for many.

The best sources overall for timely information on the coronavirus pandemic remain the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

EPIC continues to compile resources to aid in understanding the impact of the pandemic on employers, their workforces and the management of risk.


Supply Chain & Business Risks

FMCSA Extends and Modifies Emergency Declaration

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended its emergency exemption for Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers assisting with coronavirus relief efforts. The extension is effective June 15 and expires on July 14. The scope of the exemption is limited to transportation of the following items:

  • Livestock and livestock feed
  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of coronavirus
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation and prevention of transmission of coronavirus (e.g., masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap, disinfectants)

Items that were previously included in the exemption but no longer are as of June 14, include the following:

  • Food, paper products and groceries
  • Fuel
  • Liquefied gasses for refrigeration or cooling systems
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine and isolation facilities
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes
  • Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services

As an important reminder, nothing in the emergency declaration may be construed as an exemption from the controlled substance and alcohol uses and testing requirements (Part 382), the commercial driver’s license requirements (Part 383), the financial responsibility (insurance) requirements (Part 387), the hazardous material regulations (Parts 100-180), applicable size and weight requirements, or any other portion of the regulations not specifically exempted under §390.23.

The full text of the declaration can be found online: Emergency Extension and Modification Expanded

For more information about how the exemption may impact your organization, contact your EPIC broker.


Insurance Products & Coverage

Will Riot Damage be Covered under Commercial Property Coverages?

Before the recent riots and civil unrest, the 1992 Los Angeles riots were the costliest civil disorder in American history, causing $775 million in damage ($1.42 billion in today’s dollars). With so many metropolitan areas affected by recent looting and property damage, the overall cost is likely to surpass that of the 1992 riots.

This year’s civil unrest occurred (and in some cases, continues) simultaneously in 25 cities and some suburbs, versus in one city. When these losses are considered in conjunction with property damage claims related to coronavirus and the upcoming hurricane season, it could amount to a major loss for some reinsurers.

How Commercial Property Insurance Policies May Respond

Riots, civil commotion and vandalism are commonly covered perils under commercial property policies. Damage to insured buildings or personal property caused by those perils should be covered. Insureds should still review policy terms in detail.

When riots and vandalism trigger coverage on a commercial property policy, business income coverage should be triggered as well for the period of restoration, which is considered the time between when initial damage occurred until it is repaired and operations resume.

Civil Authority (CA) actions may also trigger coverage for lost income and extra expenses. CA applies when business operations are shut down by government order due to physical damage to properties in a defined geographic area near an insured location. If an entire block was shut down during the recent riots, this could be an example of a CA action.

Property Damage Caused by Riots Could Compound BI Claims

Another fallout from the recent riots is the potential for increased complexity to already convoluted business interruption claims being submitted during the coronavirus pandemic. Calculating losses caused by the riots apart from losses caused by coronavirus could be difficult.

While policyholders may attempt to recover losses connected to coronavirus within a civil unrest claim, insurers are unlikely to cover such losses. In some cases, to qualify for business interruption coverage under a commercial property policy for civil unrest damages, a business would have had to already be open before the unrest occurred. If a business was closed when damage from the riots occurred, an insurer could claim the policyholder is not entitled to coverage. The need for experienced claims handling from qualified brokers is clearly evident.

All policyholders wishing to file claims should do so promptly so that the claims handling process can begin. Documenting damage, boarding up windows to prevent further losses and saving receipts for repairs from qualified contractors are other best practices to follow.

If you have suffered damages and need to file a claim, contact your EPIC broker as soon as possible. How Will Commercial Property Insurance Policies Respond?

Hurricane Season is Here. Be Prepared.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is forecasting above normal hurricane activity this year. As the country turns its attention to a safe reopening amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, businesses and property owners must also prepare for the risk of loss possible due to hurricanes and tropical storms.

EPIC has prepared a Hurricane/Tropical Storm and Wind Checklist and Claim Reporting Form to help prepare properties for hurricane season and to report damage after a storm. Download our Hurricane Preparedness Overview

News of Note

The passage of another week has brought forth more legislation from city, county and state governmental bodies, as well as litigation. Here is a rundown of recent news stories of interest.


HR & Employee Benefits Insights

Workers’ Compensation: Presumptive Compensability Legislation Update

The ongoing coronavirus crisis has generated much legislative activity as municipal, state and federal governments attempt to provide relief and regulation in response to the disastrous affects it is causing to businesses and individuals. One of the more recent legislative responses has been in the area of workers’ compensation claims.

Many states have issued executive orders, bulletins and emergency rules addressing coronavirus, some of which include directives on workers’ compensation coverage for certain workers.

State Legislation Status

As of June 4, six states had passed legislation that establishes presumption of compensability for coronavirus for certain workers. Those states are: Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. At least 12 others, including California, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio, have proposed similar legislation.

Broadly speaking, legislation has fallen into three types of bills that establish compensability presumptions:

  • First responders and/or certain healthcare workers
  • Essential or frontline workers (e.g., grocery store and pharmacy employees)
  • All employees

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) is tracking state compensability presumption legislation and updates state statuses weekly. Its weekly coronavirus workers’ compensation compensability presumptions can be accessed here: COVID-19 Regulatory Legislative Update

Employer Rebuttals

In states where presumptive compensability for coronavirus exists, employers have the opportunity to rebut presumptions in three ways:

  • By proving an employee was working from home or outside the workplace for at least 14 days prior to his/her contraction of the virus.
  • By showing that it strictly adhered to industry-specific workplace sanitation, social distancing and safety protocols and guidelines defined by the CDC or its state department of health.
  • By proving the employee was exposed to coronavirus through an alternative source.
Potential Cost of Presumptive Compensability Legislation

In gauging the impact of presumptive compensability legislation on the workers’ compensation industry, EPIC projects that premium rates will change from -2 to +5 percent. In the near term, rising unemployment could cause rates to fall, while in the long term, workers’ compensation rates could rise as expanded compensability for coronavirus could drive up costs considerably.

In California alone, projected costs from its executive order are $2 billion. Nationwide, various industry analysts have posited that costs could range between $10 and $50 billion.

While much is still fluid around this issue,  it is certain that coronavirus claims will be complex. Claimants should immediately report all claims where an employee has tested positive for coronavirus and alleges infection occurred while in the course and scope of their employment, irrespective of presumptive laws within their states.

For more information about how presumptive compensability legislation may impact your organization, contact your EPIC broker.

Guidelines for Employers Monitoring Remote Workers

Working remotely is a new reality for many professionals across America. Some employers that had visual monitoring standards in effect in office settings are grappling with how to maintain those standards in a remote environment where most of their employees now work from home.

Artificial intelligence technologies like enaible and Hubstaff allow employers to keep their employees under surveillance during work hours. Apps like Time Doctor display messages to employees who leave their computers for a few minutes to use the bathroom. The messages communicate they have 60 seconds to return to their desks and start working or their time worked will be paused.

While employers are ostensibly using these technologies to increase productivity in an unfamiliar environment, the action can communicate distrust to the employees being watched.

It is understandable that employers want managers to stay connected and aware of what team members are doing each day in a remote environment. Employers should be concerned about engagement and productivity as well as the mental and physical wellness of their employees. The decision employers make should not be made lightly, and needs to take into account potential privacy concerns from employees who may not have given their consent to be monitored in such new and potentially invasive manners.

Transparency and trust are two principles that may help guide employers’ efforts in this area; state privacy statues must be also be considered.

For further assistance or questions around this matter, contact your EPIC broker.


Insights From Across the Firm

EPIC’s thought leaders have written numerous articles on matters relating to coronavirus, all of which are available on EPIC’s website. Those articles include:

Conclusion

Our understanding of coronavirus and its impact around the world continues to evolve at a rapid pace. This newsletter briefly touches on issues that businesses may want to consider as they approach their response to novel coronavirus. More topics will be considered in future issues as our understanding of the virus and its impact continues to evolve. Please reach out to your EPIC broker for more information.

For all of EPIC’s coronavirus coverage, visit epicbrokers.com/coronavirus 

Disclaimer: This has been provided as an informational resource for EPIC clients and business partners. It is intended to provide general guidance on potential exposures and is not intended to provide medical advice or address medical concerns or specific risk circumstances. Due to the dynamic nature of infectious diseases, EPIC cannot be held liable for the guidance provided. We strongly encourage readers to seek additional safety, medical and epidemiological information from credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Regarding insurance coverage questions, whether coverage applies or a policy will respond to any risk or circumstance is subject to the specific terms and conditions of the policies and contracts at issue and underwriter determinations. 

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