EPIC Risk Advisory Bulletin
Volume 1, Issue 7
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:.
- General Information on Coronavirus
- Supply Chain and Business Risks
- Cargo Theft Response Services and Safety Tips
- Insurance Products and Coverage Information
- Webinar: Management Risk & Cyber/Privacy
- Legislation and Litigation Roundup
- Human Resources and Employee Benefits
- Sharp Increase in OSHA Complaints
- Webinar: Filing CA Workers’ Compensation Claims
- Navigating New Leave Requirements as a Result of Coronavirus
- Release of U.S. Treasury Paycheck Protection Program Application
- Employee Benefits Insights
The information presented here is intended to provide a high level overview of critical areas of concern for businesses around coronavirus. Consult your EPIC insurance broker for more in-depth guidance.
General Information on Coronavirus
While the best source for timely information on the coronavirus pandemic remains the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), EPIC has compiled resources to aid in understanding the impact of the pandemic on employers, their workforces and managing risk.
In addition to the map below, there is an interesting study and interactive model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The study is a state-by-state forecast of health service utilization and deaths due to coronavirus. It projects the day resource use will peak in each U.S. state, and includes hospital bed use, need for intensive care beds, and ventilator use. The model was built using observed death rates from coronavirus and incorporates preventative measures taken by each state.
According to the model, America will reach its peak day on April 15. Hospital beds needed are anticipated to be 140,823, which is a shortage of 36,654 beds. ICU beds needed are expected to be 29,210, which reflects a shortage of 16,323. Additionally, 24,828 invasive ventilators are needed. The site also projects deaths and information is searchable by state. Information is dynamic, so please visit the following link for up to date results.
View the study here: https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections
Source: John Hopkins
Supply Chain and Business Risks
Cargo Theft Response Services and Safety Tips
As the coronavirus crisis continues to grow, crimes related to cargo transport will continue to increase. CargoNet, which offers a cargo theft prevention and recovery network, expects to see an uptick in cargo theft and looting of businesses across America over the coming weeks.
Medical supplies, including surgical masks and gloves, as well as food and water and essential household items, are likely to be targeted. CargoNet is coordinating with local, state, and federal authorities to enhance their ability to respond to theft of special, sensitive shipments. In order to be as successful as possible, it is imperative that information about new thefts or other kinds of supply chain crime get reported in an expeditious manner.
CargoNet will be providing complimentary cargo theft response services, so that supply chain professionals are able to report a cargo theft event, and gain access to CargoNet’s 24/7/365 command center. In additional, they are providing free access to subject matter experts, including its cargo recovery network and investigative support team.
Access more information about this free service, including guidance on reporting a cargo theft, plus get security tips and best practices here
For more information or coverage questions, contact your EPIC broker.
Insurance Products & Coverage
Webinar: Management Risk & Cyber/Privacy: Coverage, Claims and Regulatory Updates
In this new webinar, EPIC subject matter experts Jacqueline Beaudet, Vincent Caracciolo, Kelly Geary, and Larry Reback field questions about pressing concerns related to D&O and EPL, and Network Security and Cyber claims. Additionally, a regulatory update on state and federal government responses to the coronavirus pandemic is included. Highlights of the webinar follow.
D&O and EPL
Policies and triggers related to coronavirus for D&O and EPL could include:
- Disclosure (for both public and private companies; events both prior and after the pandemic)
- Management actions related to anticipation of the pandemic, responses to it and execution on contingency plans
- Insolvency and bankruptcy
- Insuring agreements and extensions, pre-claim assistance and crisis management
Potential policy exclusions that could be raised by carriers include:
- Bodily injury, conduct, allegations of wrongful acts, insider trading, contract/agreements, and professional services
Higher numbers of employment practice wrongful acts (e.g., discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, harassment, employment-related invasion of privacy, defamation, etc.) could be filed on the basis of protected statuses.
Network and Cyber Security Concerns
Cybersecurity and information privacy were top risks for all organizations. As the virus spread, the collective focus shifted. Almost overnight, everyone moved into cyberspace. Businesses moved all employees to remote work environments. Students began learning virtually. With people generally more distracted, cyber criminals have become more active. Cybersecurity-related vulnerabilities include:
- Phishing and ransomware attacks
- Fraudulent domain names and websites
- Remote workplace system vulnerabilities
The past two years created momentum for new broad privacy regulations at the state and federal levels. With focus elsewhere, regulatory focus has shifted, but existing laws are still being enforced. Key employee or remote work force issues to consider include:
- Employee use of devices that are personal rather than company-owned or issued, which may not be fitted with the proper security
- Collection/handling/disposal of private or corporate confidential information in a “remote” environment
- Lack of or strained access to IT staff
The potential impact of these factors on cyber insurance could include:
- Potential spike in claim frequency/severity, which could impact premiums, limits and capacity
- Continued proliferation of cybercrime, specifically in ransomware attacks
- Company responses may not be as effective in a fully remote environment
For a full discussion of the above topics and a brief recap on state and federal regulatory responses to the coronavirus crisis, view the pre-recorded webinar on EPIC’s website
Legislation and Litigation Roundup
With each passing day, it seems more states are introducing or considering legislation to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Louisiana and New York are two of the latest.
The New York Department of Financial Services announced that consumers and small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic may defer paying life insurance premiums for 90 days and may defer paying premiums for property and casualty insurance for 60 days. Premium finance agencies have been required to provide the same relief as insurers.
It also seems lawsuits are cropping up every day from insureds seeking coverage for damages incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Here is a rundown of recent news on both the legislation and litigation fronts.
Legislation News of Note
- Pennsylvania Bill Would Force COVID-19 Business Interruption Coverage, Business Insurance
- Louisiana Proposes COVID-19 Presumptive Legislation, Business Insurance
- New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) Mandates Deferrals of Premium Payments for Life and Property and Casualty Insurance, DFS Press Release
- New York Introduces Bill on Pandemic-Related Business Interruption Claims, Business Insurance
- TTB, FDA Release Guidance on Production of Hand Sanitizer, TTB Public Guidance
Litigation News of Note
- Theater Chain Sues for Virus Cover Under Pandemic Endorsement, Business Insurance
- Estate of Walmart Worker Who Died From COVID-19 Sues for Wrongful Death, New York Times
- Doctors on Virus Frontline Seek Protection From Malpractice Suits, Business Insurance
- Florida Sports Bar Sues Lloyd’s for Coronavirus Coverage, Business Insurance
- Insurers Fret as Company Bosses Face Coronavirus Legal Claims, Business Insurance
- Chicago Restaurants and Hospitality Groups are Suing Society Insurance, Restaurant Hospitality
- French Laundry Restauranteur Thomas Keller Sues Insurer for Coronavirus Losses, CNN
HR & Employee Benefits Insights
Sharp Increase in OSHA Complaints Shows Need for Planning and Training
Workplace safety complaints are on the rise – to the degree that federal OSHA has temporarily modified its typical response. Rather than sending letters to employees and demanding a response, OSHA may simply notify employers of complaints and include guidance on how to correct the issues.
It is important to note that there is no specific OSHA standard covering COVID-19; however, some OSHA requirements may apply in regards to preventing occupational exposure.
- For more information on these standards, visit https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/standards.html
- For a copy of “OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19,” visit https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
- Additional OSHA resources are available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/additional_resources.html
Workplace safety is on everyone’s mind, whether it be related to the lack of PPE protection or poor cleaning practices. The complaints range from coffee shop workers crowded into small drive-up spaces, to nursing staff without PPE, to production plants without staggered shifts. A quick search of the internet will bring up reports from many states noting a sharp uptick in OSHA complaints.
Despite the large numbers of claims, employers should remain vigilant, and be sure to have an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan in place. This document is designed to protect workers (and employers), taking into consideration guidance from federal, state, local and other health agencies. It must also take into account the level of risk associated with certain categories of jobs and job sites, and include workplace controls in place to address the risks. The plan must be a living document to respond to the ever changing landscape, and it is important for employees to be trained to follow the plan’s control procedures. Not only is this document helpful to show employees how things are being managed in response to coronavirus, but it also serves as documentation should a notification be received from OSHA.
Some employee complaints stem from a lack of knowledge or confusion relating to how to keep employees safe. EPIC’s Training & Awareness Practice has created a poster package and a handout that may be useful in addressing some of these issues. Available in English, Spanish and Bilingual, they are not only an immediate help, but can be displayed or distributed once post-pandemic work practices resume to encourage employees to continue to exhibit safe and healthy behaviors. The Training & Awareness team can arrange printing and distribution for company-wide usage, and can help companies go further, creating custom videos and implementing other strategies proven to shift behavior through a positive, cohesive learning process that leads to engagement and goal/objective alignment. Reach out to an EPIC broker to request any of these services or the addition of a company logo or custom content to the posters or handout.
EPIC’s Training & Awareness team follows a five step road map of techniques that includes awareness, training, measurement, recognition and coaching. The deliverables available from this group are particularly valuable at this time, as a measure to protect against OSHA violations. For more information on the practice, visit: epicbrokers.com/products/risk-consulting
Webinar: Filing CA Workers Compensation Claims
EPIC has released a new webinar addressing issues related to California workers compensation claims compensability, communication, and guidelines for reporting potential coronavirus-related claims. Topics covered include:
- Communication with employees
- Compensability determination in the event of coronavirus claims
- Employers’ responsibility
- Reporting a claim
Questions about exposure risk, occupational disease, workers compensation compensability, and how to navigate new leave requirements were addressed.
When evaluating exposure, a few important points to remember are that employees do not have to prove negligence since the workers compensation system is a no fault system. Employees must only show that the injury arose out of employment or during the course of employment. While coronavirus is not considered an injury, it could be considered an occupational disease. In order to be considered an occupational disease, an employee must prove two things:
- The illness must be “occupational,” meaning that it arose out of and was in the course of employment.
- The illness or disease must arise out of or be caused by conditions peculiar to the work and creates a risk of contracting the disease in a greater degree and in a different manner than in the public generally.
Determining compensability should take into account risk of employment, exposure versus injury, and each case should be investigated on its own merits. Special consideration will be given to healthcare workers and first responders. For a full discussion of these topics, view the pre-recorded, free webinar on EPIC’s website
Navigating New Leave Requirements as a Result of Coronavirus
Suppose an employee contacts Human Resources and advises that they will not be able to come to work because of coronavirus. How should the HR department respond? What questions should be asked and to whom should the claim for benefits be reported? These questions and more are answered in a new document from EPIC
Release of U.S. Treasury Paycheck Protection Program Application
On April 2, the U.S. Treasury posted the Paycheck Protection Program Application on its website. The form is to be completed by the authorized representative of the Applicant and submitted to a participating SBA Lender. Small business owners seeking financial assistance through the program will need to complete this application to determine eligibility.
Employee Benefits Insights
EPIC’s employee benefits leaders have written numerous articles on matters related to coronavirus and employee benefits, all of which are available on EPIC’s website. These articles include:
- Insurance Companies Don’t Give it Away for Free (Apr 6)
- EPIC’s Workers’ Compensation Claims Advocacy (Apr 6)
- DOL Releases Additional FFCRA FAQ (Apr 3)
- Benefits Plans are Changing to Help Consumers (Apr 2)
- IRS Provides Guidance on FFCRA Tax Credits (Apr 1)
- IRS Provides Guidance on CARES Act Employee Retention Tax Credits (Apr 1)
- San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance 2019 Annual Report Form Cancelled (Mar 31)
- COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period Raises Compliance Questions (Mar 31)
- CARES Act Addresses COVID-19 Economic Crisis (Mar 27)
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. </small class>
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