The saying “We’re all in the same boat” hasn’t necessarily been true of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on workers’ compensation in the U.S.
The differences in how the coronavirus has reverberated through workers’ comp claims varies between states, and is dependent on a number of factors, according to one expert.
“This is a state-by-state phenomenon, and you can have states that share borders that are having massively different impacts from COVID on the workers’ compensation system,” said Matt Zender, SVP of workers’ compensation strategy at AmTrust Financial Services. “How the states are opening up the presumption of compensability rules, how the states have handled their shutdown orders---all of those factors have had a very large impact on workers’ compensation.”
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, AmTrust saw the number of overall workers’ comp claims drop due to the fact that not as many people were working. Then, as the states started to codify their responses to how they would view a coronavirus claim, AmTrust began to see spikes in claims, though again, the trends in claims are unique to each state.
In the case of Florida, for instance, there are two components leading to a spike in claims. One was the increase in workers’ comp claims broadly because the state did not shutdown to the same extent as other states, so more people were working and were thus exposed, putting more claims into the system, explained Zender.
The second reason for the claims increase was related to the presumption rules that came into place, which is a trend that has been evident in other states as well.