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Legislative changes allowing workers compensation coverage due to COVID-19 will result in an increase in loss estimates and a potential earnings hit for the insurance companies, according an analysis released Thursday by A.M. Best.
A number of U.S. states have begun the process of enacting legislation or have issued executive orders on workers compensation coverage for essential employees, an expansion of benefits that prompted A.M. Best to revise the outlook on the workers comp insurance industry.
“A shift in the burden of proof could lead to significant additional losses to this segment, leading to increased reserve estimates and higher combined ratios. The insurers most at risk… would be state funds and other workers compensation specialists,” A.M. Best said in its analysis.
“These efforts seek to shift the burden to the insurer to prove that an employee contracting COVID-19 did not do so on the job, and come at a time when workers compensation writers are stressed by soaring unemployment, lower-for-longer interest rates and rate pressure.”
Yet “despite heightened risk owing to legislation,” the A.M. Best analysis predicts that COVID-19-related claims will be “manageable” for insurers.
“General claims have declined noticeably in the last few months despite the pandemic. Additionally, the average cost of a COVID-19 claim to date has been substantially lower than that of a non-COVID-19 claim, absent ongoing prescription drug or physical therapy costs. The current landscape and exposure is generally favorable, as more people are working at home in remote settings. However, as states and municipalities relax their stay at home restrictions, a second, more widespread wave of the pandemic may emerge,” the analysis states.
More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here.
The outlook for the workers compensation sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be shaped by changes in presumption laws related to virus claims and lower premium due to falling payroll as unemployment skyrockets, according to experts.