Federal, state and local governments and regulatory bodies are working quickly to provide guidance and information about the insurance industry’s role in managing the COVID-19. Find executive orders, updates covering the impact of the coronavirus on the insurance industry as well as other critical information here.

TEXAS AND LOCAL UPDATES

APRIL 27
Governor Greg Abbott has issued the following: Executive Order No.GA-18 relating to the expanded reopening of services as part of the safe, strategic plan to open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster. Read the order here.

APRIL 24
Lt. Gov. Patrick Announces Senate Work Groups to Discuss Pandemic Impact on Texas
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced today that he has established six Senate working groups to discuss challenges the state will face in the next legislative session as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the announcement here.

Frustrated GOP lawmakers want to curb emergency power of Texas cities, counties
Local governments have gone too far in issuing emergency orders during the coronavirus pandemic and can expect to have those powers whittled down when the Texas Legislature meets again, key state lawmakers say. Read more here.

APRIL 22
Some Onsite Agent, Adjuster Licensing Exams Now Available in Texas
Texas insurance regulators say agents and adjusters can now take licensing exams at select sites in the state. The testing locations for Pearson VUE, the state’s testing contractor, had previously been closed do to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) says it has authorized Pearson Vue to resume testing at sites where social distancing and safeguards are in place to reduce risks. Read more here.

APRIL 17
Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Establishing Strike Force To Open Texas
Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference where he issued three new Executive Orders to begin the process of reopening the state of Texas while revising hospital capacity and certain social distancing guidelines. Read the orders here.

APRIL 14
COVID-19, business interruption and bad faith litigation
Insurers must investigate and evaluate each policyholder’s COVID-19 claim and then thoroughly explain coverage determinations. Read more here.

APRIL 13
San Antonio barbershops sue State Farm after coronavirus insurance claims denied
Since all nonessential businesses were ordered closed last month to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Shayne Brown figures his seven shuttered San Antonio-area barbershops have lost a combined $1 million in revenue. “We’re just dead in the water,” Brown said, adding he’s had to furlough 120 employees. Read more here. (subscription may be required)

APRIL 09
Rep. Mayes Middleton letter to Commissioner Kent Sullivan
State Representative Mayes Middleton asks Commissioner Kent Sullivan to begin an investigation into the wholesale denial of business interruption claims in Texas. Read the letter here.

APRIL 07
Lt. Gov. Patrick Appoints Business Task Force to Re-Start the Economy: Brint Ryan Will Chair
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced the establishment of a task force to work on recommendations and strategies for restarting the economy once President Trump and Governor Abbott announce that businesses can reopen. The task force will be comprised of business leaders from the Business Advisory Council he established when he was first elected in 2014. Read the press release here.

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TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE

ICT Summaries of TDI COVID-19 Related Actions
TDI and has been issuing bulletins and emergency rules to keep up with the changing needs and issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since these are coming in at a rapid pace, ICT has compiled summaries of each agency’s actions up to April 22nd for reference.
Read the TDI summary here.

APRIL 20
TDI Modernization Efforts Paying Off During Pandemic, Commissioner Says
The employees of the state agency in charge of regulating the insurance industry in Texas might not put it this way, but in a sense, operationally at least, they have been preparing for the current health crisis brought on by the new coronavirus for a couple of years. Read more here.

APRIL 15
TDI issues bulletin on commercial premium adjustments. TDI issued a bulletin to encourage insurers to work with commercial policyholders that have premiums based on payroll, sales, or a similar auditable exposure. TDI requests that insurers conduct midterm audits and accept self-reports of changes to adjust premiums as appropriate. Read the bulletin here.

MARCH 31
TDI Expedites Review of COVID-19 Filings
TDI announced today that they are expediting approvals for property and casualty filings that provide additional coverage or relief to policyholders during the COVID-19 outbreak. Some recent filings related to COVID-19 include:

1. Some auto insurers filed to remove delivery exclusions from policies in response to policyholders using their vehicles to deliver food, medicine, and other goods.
2. A commercial auto insurance company filed a temporary rate decrease for certain policies, anticipating less driving and reduced loss exposure.

TDI reviewed and approved the first delivery exclusion filing the same day it was received. P&C companies filing changes in response to the COVID-19 are asked to notify TDI at PropertyCasualty@tdi.texas.gov or 512-676-6710 to ensure the filing is quickly flagged and reviewed.

MARCH 26
TDI Answers Questions: Health Plan, Testing and more
According to TDI, most health plans are waiving some or all of the cost of medically necessary testing for coronavirus COVID-19 that’s consistent with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. This might include the copayment, coinsurance, and deductible. TDI has created a Q&A site for this and other medical information. Read more here.

MARCH 25
TDI modifies escrow requirements
TDI has issued a bulletin with modified escrow requirements to allow for a single signature on checks, extend the deadline for audit reports, allow for electronic signatures and make other temporary changes in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Read the entire bulletin here.

MARCH 24
Texas Department of Insurance Licensing, Continuing Education Updates
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, TDI has issued a bulletin suspending certain licensing requirements and fees. Read more here.

MARCH 23
Texas Department of Insurance: Guidance on claims handling and grace periods
TDI issued a bulletin to help consumers and the insurance industry during the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more here.

TDI Meeting and Training Cancellations
TDI’s COVID-19 information page can be found online here, and their list of events impacted by the coronavirus is online here.

DWC AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION NEWS

ICT Summaries DWC COVID-19 Related Actions
DWC has been issuing bulletins and emergency rules to keep up with the changing needs and issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since these are coming in at a rapid pace, ICT has compiled summaries of each agency’s actions up to April 24th for reference. 
Read the DWC summary here.

APRIL 29
Is a worker who contracts COVID-19 compensated under workers’ compensation for income loss and medical expenses? Read more here.

APRIL 28
During this pandemic, many workers (nurses, police, grocery store clerks, transit professionals, etc.) are considered essential, potentially putting them at heightened risk for contracting COVID-19. Read more here.

APRIL 25
Lawsuit Pits Businesses vs. Pritzker in COVID-19 Legal Battle
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to withdraw a temporary, emergency rule put in place earlier this month that ensures “first responders and essential front-line workers, who are most susceptible to exposure to COVID-19, are afforded the full protections of the Workers’ Compensation Act in the event they are exposed to or contract the virus.”

APRIL 23
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has crafted a white paper to assist in understanding the potential cost impact on WC losses due to COVID-19.  While there are many unknowns, the paper serves to provide an estimate of potential WC system cost impacts under  various hypothetical scenarios. It is meant to be used as a tool to gain insight into the potential implications of a state enacting legislation related to the compensability of COVID-19 related claims in certain occupations. 

Of particular interest:

  • See page 18 for WC loss impact by state and infection rate where compensability rate is 100%- In Texas, depending upon the infection rates (from 1% to 50%), costs increase can range from 25% to 1227%
  • See page 23-24 for first responder WC loss impacts by state and infection rate- In Texas, depending upon the infection rates (from 1% to 50%), costs increase can range from 10% to 519%
  • On page 24-25 you will find health care workers WC loss impacts by state and infection rates (from 1% to 50%)- In Texas, depending on the infection rate, costs increase can range from 65% to 3237% 

NCCI will be hosting a live WebEx Briefing on Friday, May 1st at 2 p.m. EST, where they will review the model’s capabilities and intended usage. To register for the webinar go here. The document in its entirety, as well as a letter by NCCI Chief Regulator are attached.

APRIL 14
DWC Emergency rule on telemedicine
DWC adopted an emergency rule allowing health care providers licensed to perform physical medicine and rehabilitation services, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists to bill and be reimbursed for services currently allowed under CMS telemedicine and telehealth billing codes. Read more here.

MARCH 27
DWC Commissioner’s Bulletin 
Commissioner Brown has issued a bulletin regarding suspension of certain provisions of the Labor Code and DWC rules related to WC, which will remain in effect for the duration of the Governor’s COVID-19 declaration. Governor Abbott has approved suspending the some requirements including, work search compliance standards for supplemental income benefits under Labor Code Sec. 408.1415(a) and 28 TAC 130.102(d), Testing, training, and application requirements for designated doctor and maximum medical improvement and impairment rating recertification. Read the bulletin here.

MARCH 25
DWC Commissioner Issues Bulletin in Response to COVID-19
Commissioner Cassie Brown has issued a bulletin on COVID-19 as it relates to the Texas workers’ compensation system. Included are  insurance carrier operations, suspension of exams, tolling of medical billing deadlines and more. View the full bulletin on the TDI website

MARCH 24
DWC Operations
DWC has announced the cancellation of their April 22nd Quarterly Carrier Meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. DWC issued a bulletin outlining their precautionary measures. Learn more here.

Updates from our workers’ compensation regulatory counsel
Additionally, our regulatory counsel has prepared useful information regarding the issues surrounding COVID-19. Here are links to those updates:
BAJB March 6, 2020 Update
BAJB March 17, 2020 Update

DWC Meeting and Training Cancellations
DWC has a list of all cancellations of the division’s meetings and events at the bottom of their Coronavirus Resources webpage

FEDERAL

APRIL 22
Kudlow: Businesses shouldn’t be held liable for employees and customers getting coronavirus
White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow on Wednesday said that businesses should not be held responsible for employees or customers getting sick as governors move to reopen state economies. Read more here.

APRIL 13
US Congressman Pramila Jayapal of Washington State wrote a letter to nine insurance companies with questions and concerns about the denial of business interruption claims due to the coronavirus. Read that letter here.

APRIL 11
GOP senators urge Trump to protect insurers from state legislation
Seven GOP senators sent a letter to President Trump on Friday asking that he commit to protecting the insurance industry from proposals in state legislatures that would require insurance companies to retroactively cover small-business losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

APRIL 10
Trump: Insurance companies should pay out for pandemic claims

President Trump expressed frustration on Friday over insurance companies not paying their customers for business interruptions attributable to the coronavirus pandemic. “I would like to see the insurance companies pay if they need to pay — if it is fair,” said Trump during a coronavirus briefing at the White House on Friday. Read more here.

APRIL 07
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that he’ll work with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to approve more funding by Thursday for the Paycheck Protection Program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Read more here.

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OTHER STATES

APRIL 27
Some Insurance Regulators Skeptical About Business Interruption Claims
Insurance commissioners in at least seven states have advised business owners not to get their hopes up if pursuing business-interruption claims. Scott Seaman, a partner with the Hinshaw & Culbertson law firm in Chicago, posted a blog on Friday that relayed communications from insurance commissioners in Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Read more here.

APRIL 15
North Carolina Creates Process for Insurers to Legally Offer Pandemic Premium Relief
The North Carolina Department of Insurance says it is working with insurers to allow them to offer financial relief to policyholders without filing for department approval or risking violating state law during the current coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

Shoe Co. Sues Hartford Over Coronavirus Closure Coverage
Shoe designer Marc Fisher Footwear LLC and a slew of associated companies have sued a unit of The Hartford in California state court, alleging the insurer has wrongfully failed to cover tens of millions of dollars in losses they have suffered since coronavirus-related closures brought their business to a grinding halt. Read more here.

APRIL 14
CONGRESSMAN MIKE THOMPSON (CA) files HR 6494
The bill requires any insurer that offers business interruption coverage to make available and provide coverage for losses resulting from any viral pandemic, any forced closure of business or mandatory evacuation (from all levels of government), any power shut off.
Requires the coverage not differ materially to what is offered for other types of loss under BIPreempts and voids exclusions for the required coverage above (viral pandemic, etc.)

Alabama Regulator Eases Process for Auto Insurers to Reduce Policyholder Premiums
The Alabama Department of Insurance says it will waive filing fees and allow for immediate implementation of premium reductions by insurers in an effort to provide some relief to Alabama consumers. Read more here.

APRIL 13
Task force targets coronavirus fraudsters in Nevada
Nevada’s attorney general and U.S. attorney have assembled a new task force to crack down on scams and other crimes related to the new coronavirus. Read more here.

California orders car insurance rebates due to coronavirus. Many carriers already cut rates
If you haven’t already, you could soon see a refund from your car insurance carrier. California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has ordered carriers to return premiums paid for at least the months of March and April for insurance lines where the risk of loss has fallen substantially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

APRIL 09
Bill would up pressure on insurers to cover business interruption
South Carolina lawmakers have become the latest to introduce a bill that would force insurers to retroactively cover business interruption claims due to COVID-19. Read more here.

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