Click through the gallery to learn about these industries' biggest struggles. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Agriculture:“Growers and packing facilities that supply supermarkets and warehouse stores are busier than ever, meeting an increase in food demand in communities throughout the United States. On the other extreme, those who have contracts with brokers specializing in restaurants, schools, airports and other commercial facilities are seeing demand plummet during the pandemic. Many sectors of the agriculture industry, such as meat, pork and poultry, are struggling with significant absenteeism, fueled by positive cases of coronavirus. Over 15 food processing plants have been shuttered due to COVID-19 outbreaks among their employees. At this time, no one is certain how coronavirus-related WC claims will be treated for essential workers, although states like California and Illinois are moving to ease restrictions. -
Griffin Barkley, Greg Dohrmann and Richard Trippe
Construction:"The long-term impact of COVID-19 on the construction industry is hard to quantify with the uncertainty surrounding how long the pandemic will continue, but some analysts predict the decline might be short-lived. According to reporting by EC&M, 'Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), is predicting that the coronavirus will cause a sharp economic downturn that may also be short. 2Q 2020 GDP growth will be markedly negative and probably the country’s worst performance since 3Q 2008, during the Great Recession. A weak 3Q will likely be followed by a rebound at the end of 2020." -
Cliff Davis and Kurt Sokolowski
(Photo: Credit: yuttana Contributor Studio/Shutterstock.com)
Higher Education:"Many institutions that have not already moved to online benefits administration are now exploring platforms that offer virtual enrollment and employee benefits administration, as well as claims and payment administration, 5500 filing and ACA reporting. Although the impact on the health insurance market remains undetermined, health care costs for colleges and universities were already on the rise prior to the pandemic. Some private colleges and universities have joined coalitions to leverage their collective size for optimal pricing, modest increases and better service. Institutions should meet with their brokers to evaluate whether this strategy might be right for their needs." -
Bob Relph and Mike Brooks
Health Care:“From a risk management perspective, hospitals and health care facilities should consult with outside risk management resources and evaluate insurance coverage as the situation is changing rapidly. Health care facilities should establish coordinated protocols with multi-disciplinary teams that include up-to-date information about the assessment, treatment and prognosis of COVID-19 patients, and there should be coordination within communities to potentially avoid shortages. While hospitals in hard-hit cities and communities are stretched to capacity, many primary care providers and specialists have experienced a decline in services, as elective and non-essential surgeries and procedures have been postponed or canceled, and offices are closed for routine visits. Most physicians are reimbursed under a 'fee for service' model, which requires a provider to perform a service and be paid according to a schedule from Medicare or an insurance company. As a result of the pandemic, there is some discussion among policy experts advocating for a different model that will pay doctors a risk-adjusted fee to care for a population of patients.” -
John O’Connell, Jason Shah, and Ari Baer
(Photo: Mongkolchon Akesin/Shutterstock.com)
Hospitality & Gaming:
"With 70% of direct hotel employees laid off or furloughed, hotel workers are losing more than $2.4 billion in earnings each week. Many of those jobs will not return as hotels could be forced to close their doors.
"The gaming industry is in a similar situation. All of the country’s 465 commercial casinos, plus 508 of the country’s 524 tribal casinos, have closed as of this report, risking more than $74 billion in total wages annually for workers and their families.
"Although no one knows how long the shutdown will last, loss of revenue for many insureds in Hospitality and Gaming is estimated to be over 50% in the coming year and there is no coverage available in the market at this time for this type of business income loss. Unless there is government intervention on Business Interruption coverage, there likely will be no claims paid out to cover these losses." - Scott Wood, Jimmy Porello, Allen Kaercher, and Robin Rider (Photo: randy andy/Shutterstock.com)
"Companies serving industries such as food, medical, pharmacy, energy, government and certain consumables, are considered essential and continue to work.
"However, it is certainly not business as usual. Many of these companies are struggling to hire qualified workers and employees are working long hours with overtime and bonuses to fulfill orders.
"[Employers] are undertaking unprecedented measures of precautions to continue to operate as safely as possible. In some cases this has reduced margins and slowed production. At the other extreme, non-essential industrial manufacturers have had demand drop to a standstill, resulting in numerous furloughs and plant closures. Benefits are generally being extended to furloughed employees for at least 30 – 45 days." - Glen Grant and Robert Roberts (Photo: uwimages - Fotolia)
"As with other industries, there are concerns around workers’ compensation exposures for employees who are being required to work. Nonprofits, however, often rely on volunteers and, depending on the state, those volunteers might not be covered under the workers’ compensation policy.
"Nonprofit organizations have potential liability exposures for claims that the organization failed to take the necessary steps to safeguard or notify the public. In addition to concerns about exposures to the virus at the insured’s location, there may be an exposure if the nonprofit adjusts their services to address the pandemic and those services aren’t listed on the policy." - Joe Enright, Bob Relph, and Maureen Sylvia (Photo: Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles)
Public Sector:"On the benefits side, most carriers are allowing employees on temporary leaves of absence to stay on their existing plans without declaring COBRA qualifying events. In terms of health insurance, many public entities have adopted the policy to cover any COVID-19 related claims at 100% with no deductible.
"There have been extensive safety and risk management steps implemented to mitigate the risk of exposure and prevent possible workers’ compensation related claims for those who continue to serving at the workplace, particularly if working with others or in the public. Extra steps to maintain a clean environment have been taken to protect workers and sustain operations and services, including social distancing, using masks and working in shifts in smaller groups. Insurance carriers have been very responsive to communicating and providing resources to help educate and guide clients in taking steps to mitigate risk and manage exposure." -
Catherine Loney, Anthony Lively, Greg Zinn, and Jonathan Zinn
Restaurants: "As with other industries, Business Interruption coverage does not appear to apply in the case of COVID-19 closures, nor do Civil Authority or Contamination provisions apply. Many restaurant owners are turning to the CARES Act but, as with other industries, obtaining the funding is challenging as the system is overwhelmed with requests. The CARES Act also does not include provisions for health coverage for those losing benefits due to layoffs or benefits cuts, adding concerns about having adequate health insurance to the list of concerns restaurant owners and employees are experiencing.
"Over the last few years there has been an uptick in restaurant policies that are non-auditable, square footage-based rated rather than sales-based. Along the same class of business, endorsing current policies to include hired/non-owned auto should be considered by restaurants that are now utilizing delivery options and establishing new ways of performing their operations" -
Richard Silberstein and Gerald (Jerry) Sola
(Photo: Edvard Nalbantjan/Shutterstock.com)
"Small businesses in industries deemed essential, such as the industrial and manufacturing sector, are trying to continue to do business, but this has proven challenging. EFMLEA and Emergency Sick Pay have made it difficult to maintain a full staff, as many of their employees are taking leave.
"On a positive note, most carriers have relaxed eligibility requirements so that temporarily laid-off employees, furloughed employees and employees who have had their hours reduced can stay on their company’s benefit plans, as long as premiums continue to be paid. Many small businesses are making an effort to, at minimum, cover these employees through these relaxed eligibility timeframes. How employers are paying premiums, though, is mixed.
"Although Business Interruption claims will not generally be covered, there are things small businesses can do during the pandemic. To help ease financial constraints, small businesses should work with their broker to see if they can amend sales on gross sales-based General Liability policies. In addition, business owners can actively work with their broker to endorse their workers’ compensation policies to reflect the lower costs of payrolls." - Dawn Lauret, Scott Menath, and Ginny Biondi (Photo: Diego Radzinschi/ALM)
In a recent whitepaper, national insurance and financial services firm Alera Group details the effects of COVID-19 on 10 of the hardest-hit sectors.
The report analyzes the pandemic’s impact on agriculture, construction, higher education, health care, hospitality and gaming, manufacturing, nonprofit organizations, the public sector, restaurants, and small businesses.
The analysis was led by employee benefits practice leader Sally Prather and property and casualty practice leader Mark Englert.
Related: COVID-19 Could Shave 2-4 Years Off Social Security Trust Fund
Each of these industries is grappling with its own specific set of struggles, but many of their challenges — absenteeism, remote and virtual working environments, workers’ compensation, risk management, and business interruption — are shared ones.
“One thing is certain: this is not business as usual. Economic uncertainty is forcing businesses to contemplate a post-COVID-19 world,” says Mark Englert, Property and Casualty Practice Leader.
Click through our slideshow above for highlights of the report, and click here to read the full paper.