CA WC Insurer to spend $215 million covering COVID-19

Liz Carey

San Francisco, CA ( – Officials with California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund say they will pay for medical costs and lost income for employees at essential businesses who contract COVID-19, whether they caught the virus at work or not.

This week the agency, one of California’s largest workers’ compensation insurers, estimated that it will spend $215 million to expand COVID-19 benefits – more than four times what it estimated it would spend just last week.

“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,” said State Fund Chief Executive Officer Vern Steiner 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.”

To qualify for the benefits, workers must provide a confirmed positive test for COVID-19 between March 4, when Gov. Gavin Newsome issued his stay-at-home order, and whenever the order is lifted.

Officials said they will cover medical costs, as well as temporary disability benefits to any essential worker who has to self-quarantine.

The fund’s board also doubled to $50 million the fund for employers to use to buy workplace safety improvements to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“In the four days since the fund was announced, State Fund has received over 700 applications for COVID-19 workplace safety support funds,” leaders said in a news release. “The first several payments, all at the maximum $10,000 reimbursement, were sent to qualified applicants today.”

The State Fund will also create a third pocket of money called the “Returning California to Work COVID-19 Safety Protocol Fund” which would help businesses not deemed essential to install measures that would help them protect their employees from getting COVID-19. Grants of $10,000, or two times the policyholder’s premium, would be giving to businesses to purchase safety equipment or other items to protect employees.

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