Despite the economic slowdown resulting from the COVID-19 business closures, the total number of workers’ compensation claims reported to the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation rose in 2020 by 34% compared to the previous year.
In a recent update on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s workers’ comp system, the DWC said the rise in claims temporarily interrupted the two-decade downward trend of fewer workers’ comp claims each year.
In the report, COVID-19 in the Texas Workers’ Compensation System, May 2021, the DWC revealed that as of May 9, 2021, insurance carriers reported more than 48,000 COVID-19 claims and 249 fatalities, nearly half of which involve first responders and correctional officers.
From Jan. 1, 2020, through May 9, 2021, insurance carriers reported a total of 48,663 COVID-19 claims to DWC.
In a previous update released in late March, DWC said that as of Feb. 14, 2021, insurance carriers had reported more than 44,000 COVID-19 claims and 200 fatalities. An earlier report released by the DWC showed that more than 25,000 virus claims had been filed with workers’ comp insurers as of June 30, 2020.
The numbers are based on data calls issued to workers’ comp carriers by the DWC.
The DWC’s most recent report shows that 63% of claims involved injured employees who tested positive or were diagnosed with COVID-19. Insurance carriers had accepted 48% of COVID-19 positive test claims. There were more than 14,000 denials of COVID-19 claims with positive tests or diagnoses, however, only 85 disputes filed with DWC as of May 9 were disputed.
Most of the paid COVID-19 claims benefits were indemnity benefits (particularly employer salary continuation), rather than medical benefits.
Nearly half (45%) of the COVID-19 claims involved first responders and correctional officers, and slightly more than half (52%) of claims were processed by the state and political subdivisions acting as insurance carriers.
The public administration industry sector had the most COVID-19 claims at a rate of 47%, followed by healthcare and social assistance (21%), administrative and support and waste management and remediation (6%), and manufacturing (5%).
The bulk of the COVID-19 claims originated from 10 counties. Of the fatal workers’ compensation claims reported, 41% occurred in the same 10 counties where the majority of COVID-19 cases and claims occurred. Nearly half (46%) of the COVID-19 fatal claims involved first responders and correctional officers and slightly more than half (52%) of fatal claims were processed by Texas and political subdivisions.
Around three-quarters of the fatal claims were concentrated among males and employees over 50.
DWC administrative data as of April 22, 2021, showed that for the claims reported as of March 31, 2021, insurance carriers and employers paid $24.1 million in indemnity benefits on COVID-19 claims, $10.9 million (45%) in employer salary continuation, $12.9 million (53%) in workers’ comp income benefits, $244,390 (1%) in death benefits, and $121,202 (1%) in burial benefits.
Most of the costs have been paid by political subdivisions (60%), followed by commercial insurance carriers (36%) and the state (4%).
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