Beacon Addresses Coronavirus Workers’ Compensation for Health Care Professionals
Warwick, R.I. – The Beacon Mutual Insurance Company (“Beacon”) released guidance today on how it will address compensability for workers’ compensation claims made by health care workers of Beacon policyholders diagnosed with COVID-19 while treating and caring for COVID-19 patients. As concerns over the health and well-being of health care workers increase as a result of COVID-19, Beacon remains vigilant in its efforts to ensure that such policyholder employees receive without delay the benefits to which they are entitled under the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Act.
“In these unprecedented times, we have all become acutely aware of the critical role of health care workers who are treating and caring for patients with COVID-19, and of the heightened risk for such workers to contract COVID-19 during the course of performing their occupational duties,” said Brian J. Spero, President & CEO of the Beacon Mutual Insurance Company.
In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Act, claimants need to prove that their diagnosed illness arose out of and in the course of their employment, and not through other potential sources of exposure. In an attempt to expedite any workers’ compensation claims by those providing treatment and care for COVID-19 patients, Beacon intends to recognize the heightened risk of COVID-19 exposure to policyholder health care workers and to presume that those health care workers diagnosed with COVID-19 have an occupational disease, thereby making them eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Specifically, throughout the declared state of emergency in Rhode Island, Beacon will address any such claims as follows:
The disablement of any employee diagnosed with COVID-19 while acting as a health care provider, including as a physician, nurse, health care worker, emergency medical technician, or assistive employee employed in a health care, home care, or long-term care setting, with direct COVID-19 patient care or ancillary work in COVID-19 patient units, will be presumed to be an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment. Such presumption would only be rebutted on the basis of evidence showing that employment was not a direct cause of the disease.
Such action is intended to streamline and augment the protection offered to policyholder health care workers by the expanded unemployment and paid leave benefits provided under federal and state law. Beacon hopes that this approach to workers’ compensation benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic will enable health care workers to continue to provide the critical care needed by our community knowing that their needs will be swiftly addressed in the event of a work related injury.
For answers to frequently asked questions on how to prepare for potential infection from the respiratory virus known as Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) and how it relates to workers' compensation insurance, visit Beacon’s News & Insights page.
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