Florida state employees working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible to receive workers’ compensation coverage under a recent directive from CFO Jimmy Patronis.
In a March 30 order, Patronis directed the Division of Risk Management to provide workers’ compensation coverage for state officials whose responsibilities require them to interface with individuals who are potentially infected with the coronavirus.
Under the CFO’s directive, state agencies can choose to opt-out of coverage. As of the date of the order, the Division of Risk Management had received 36 claims for COVID-19. Additionally, the Florida League of Cities said the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust will cover first responders’ COVID-19 claims. While the severity and duration of recovery for COVID-19 varies with each patient, generally individuals recover after two weeks.
The Florida Department of Financial Services said the order was necessary because current statute doesn’t speak to global pandemics, and it would be an uphill battle for public officials to get covered.
“These folks provide essential state services to protect Florida communities,” DFS told Insurance Journal in an e-mail.
The benefits will include coverage for a portion of lost wages, medical costs, death and disability benefits.
DFS said Patronis is continuing to evaluate this public health crisis and will continue to work with state leaders, bankers, insurers, and private companies to protect Floridians.
Claims will be administered through the DFS Division of Risk Management and the Bureau of State Employee Workers’ Compensation Claims.
“If we’re going to ask our public servants to fight this pandemic on our behalf, they have to know we’ve got their backs if they get sick. COVID-19 is taking some of our public servants off their feet for weeks. Workers’ compensation insurance was developed to provide our public servants a way to cover a portion of their lost wages and medical costs, so their families don’t have to worry as much,” Patronis said. “Providing this important coverage to our men and women on the front line is just the right thing to do.”
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