State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) just announced that it has dramatically expanded its coverage of COVID-19 claims by essential workers in California. Effective immediately, SCIF is accepting any claim by an essential worker (as defined by Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-33-20) for a diagnosed case of COVID-19, regardless of whether or not that worker can demonstrate the virus was contracted during the course of employment. The diagnosis must include a confirmed positive test for COVID-19 and must occur during the period of time between when the Governor issued his Shelter-in-Place order (March 19, 2020) and before that order is lifted.
In addition, SCIF is providing temporary disability benefits to any covered essential worker who is required to self-quarantine if they are not covered by another source of wage-replacement benefits. This action effectively replaces the Essential Worker Support Fund that SCIF announced to its policy holders earlier, as all employees who would have been covered under that fund are now entitled to full workers’ compensation benefits.
This comes as Governor Newsom is considering signing a new Executive Order that would mandate that all employees working outside of the home who contract COVID-19 during the Shelter-in-Place order be automatically covered by worker’s compensation. The Saqui Law Group is monitoring this developing issue closely and will report back here with further developments.
On the positive side, California’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau recently submitted a special regulatory filing to the California Insurance Commissioner proposing to exclude from the computation of an employer’s experience modification (Ex-Mod) all claims directly arising from a diagnosis of COVID-19. If approved, the new regulation would become effective July 1, 2020, and apply to claims reported on or after August 1, 2020. For more information, you can view the proposal here.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
SCIF policy holders can find more information about the expanded coverage for COVID-19 claims and SCIF’s other funds created to support businesses during the pandemic here. If you have questions about responding to COVID-19 claims from your company’s employees, contact the experts at the Saqui Law Group, a division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated.