California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund said it is now accepting any claim by an essential worker for a diagnosed case of COVID-19, regardless of whether that worker can demonstrate the virus was contracted during the course of employment.
The diagnosis must include a confirmed positive test for COVID-19 and must occur during the period of time between when the governor issued his stay-at-home order and before that order is lifted.
State Fund is California’s not-for-profit provider of workers comp.
This action effectively replaces the Essential Worker Support Fund announced earlier this week, as all employees who would have been covered under that fund are now entitled to full workers comp benefits.
State Fund currently estimates these added benefits will require roughly $90 million in addition to the previously committed funds for a total of $115 million. State Fund will still provide temporary disability benefits to any covered essential worker who must self-quarantine if they are not covered by another source.
“We are doing everything we can to provide our customers and injured workers with the support they need to make it through the COVID-19 crisis,” State Fund President and CEO Vern Steiner said in a statement. “We have worked hard to be in a position where we can help, and we’re proud to stand with the essential workers who are risking their lives every day to hold our communities together.”
State Fund also announced another series of actions designed to support policyholders and workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis, including doubling the size of its newly announced Essential Business Support Fund announced earlier this week to $50 million.
Since the fund was announced last week, State Fund said it has received more than 700 applications for COVID-19 workplace safety support funds. The first several payments, all at the maximum $10,000 reimbursement, were sent to qualified applicants on Monday.
As well, State Fund announced it’s creating a $50 million Returning California to Work COVID-19 Safety Protocol Fund. The fund will operate in a similar way to the Essential Business Support Fund but is designed to help businesses that were not deemed essential by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order after he removes statewide stay-at-home restrictions.
The fund is intended to provide grants to qualified policyholders to help defray the costs of safety-related expenses, planned or already incurred, related to protecting their workforces from COVID-19. Individual grants can total up to $10,000 or two times the policyholder’s premium, whichever is less. Applications for this fund will be made available at StateFundCA.com after statewide stay-at-home restrictions are lifted.
Source: State Compensation Insurance Fund
*A version of this story ran previously in our sister publication Insurance Journal.