COVID-19 Effects on Workers’ Compensation Industry

While much remains uncertain in the Workers’ Compensation world, the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board has reported that the cost of COVID-19 claims on the NY Workers’ Compensation system originally predicted may be less in reality. Using data from the New York Workers’ Compensation Board, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CDC and the state the Rating Board reports that there has been a drop in claims during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Original Predictions

Originally, the rating board reported that, as an occupational disease COVID-19, would cost the New York workers’ compensation system as much as $31 billion dollars. That is more than triple the average yearly losses in both the insured and self-insured markets. This was based on the early March projections of an infection rate between 40%-80% of the public.

Since those early predictions, the actual testing shows numbers have been around 2%, with anti-body testing reporting the rate is actually about 13% (with New York City reporting higher rates of infection at 22%.)

The updated report also noted that many federal, state and local paid leave programs have most likely incurred some of this cost as well. Many workers that had mild symptoms were able to take paid leave instead of filing a claim for workers’ compensation, helping to alleviate the cost to the system.

Updated Predictions

Hospital costs from March predict that standard non-ICU COVID stays will cost between $20.000-$30,000 but cases with severe lung issues could exceed $85,000. They also predict those that test positive and experience extreme symptoms could require mental health care.

New York currently has several bills pending to cover frontline, essential and any other workers that could come into contact with the virus at work. These bills define COVID-19 as an occupational disease and there for compensable under the New York Workers’ Compensation Board.

  • Bill S8117A is “an act to amend the general municipal law, in relation to presumption regarding impairment of health caused by COVID-19 and in relation to sick leave; and to amend the workers’ compensation law, in relation to workers’ compensation coverage and benefits for employees who participated in essential services during the COVID-19 outbreak.”
  • Bill S8266/A10401 “Includes exposure to novel coronavirus, COVID-19, as an occupational disease for which compensation shall be payable for disabilities sustained or death incurred by an employee.”