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The Texas Department of Workers Compensation experienced a 34% spike in total workers compensation claims in 2020 compared with 2019, with the increase in COVID-19 claims temporarily interrupting the state’s 20-year trend in year-over-year comp claim declines, according to a report released by the department on Wednesday.
Between Jan. 1, 2020, through May 9, 2021, insurers in the state reported more than 48,000 COVID-19 claims and more than 250 fatalities — with insurers accepting nearly half of all claims accompanied by a positive COVID-19 test.
Of the claims filed, nearly half involved first responders and correctional officers, and slightly more than half of the claims were processed by the State of Texas and subdivisions acting as insurers.
The majority of COVID-19 benefits paid out were indemnity, with insurers and employers paying out $24.1 million in indemnity for claims as of March 31, 2021, which included $10.9 million in employer salary continuation, $12.9 million in workers comp income benefits, nearly $245,000 in death benefits and about $120,00 in burial benefits.
In medical claims, insurers and employers paid out $17.3 million in medical costs as of April 22, 2021, with a little more than a quarter paid by commercial insurers.
Insurers and employers have also paid out a small number of claims relating to adverse vaccine reactions, primarily filed by health care workers and first responders. Through May 9, 2021, insurers reported 448 COVID-19 reaction claims, with only about 10% denied so far.
More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here.
The Texas Senate on Wednesday approved a measure that would enroll new state workers in a cash-balance plan rather that the state’s traditional defined benefit plan, the Texas Tribune reported. Under the measure, which heads to the Texas House, workers hired after Sept. 1, 2022, would be enrolled in the cash balance plan.