Some of the most recognized employees in the United States are returning to their high-profile gridiron work this week, as the National Football League kicks off its 2019 – 2020 campaign. We’re tackling some workplace related matters at The Way this week, too.
ROSTERS AND FREE AGENTS
The California Senate Appropriations Committee passed Assembly Bill 5, a measure that would reclassify a significant number of independent contractors and gig workers into employees. Assembly Bill 5 would codify a California Supreme Court ruling, Dynamex, into state law. The measure now heads to the California Senate floor, setting up a battle between union supporters and gig economy giants, who are prepared to fund a ballot measure seeking exemptions from the pending employment rules. We’ve got our head on a swivel as this issue scampers toward the goal line.
DURING THE RETURN
At the same time, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected a breach of contract claim brought by a rideshare driver after an insurer for the transportation network company (TNC) refused to cover injuries she sustained in an hit and run accident on the return leg of a lengthy fare. The injured driver submitted a claim for uninsured motorist, medical, rental car, and collision coverage against a policy alleged to be in force for the TNC when she was driving back from her delivery. The Court of Appeals, relying on the plain language of the policy, rejected the driver’s claim that her vehicle was a covered entity on TNC’s policy, cutting against an employment relationship.
ENFORCED ON THE KICKOFF
Also this week, a number of workers’ compensation measures signed into law in Texas came into force. The Workers’ Compensation Act now provides that: certain physical therapists are allowed to treat patients without a referral for up to either 10 or 15 consecutive business days; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is generally compensable for first responders; and a specific list of compensable cancers including colon, rectum, skin, and prostate, replaces the act’s previous standards for firefighters who contract cancer on the job. As a reminder, the Texas Legislature meets every other year, so these and 800 other enactments effectively close the 86th Regular Legislative Session. The next session in Austin won’t convene until January 2021.
WATCHING THE SCOREBOARD
Finally this week, the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) reported that workers’ compensation written premiums decreased to $4.4 billion for the first quarter of 2019, a mark 12% lower than this time last year. This is also 31% below the peak in 2014. The New Hampshire Insurance Department will reduce rates for the eighth year in a row and approve a rate proposal filed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) that will reduce voluntary loss costs by 9.6%. And in Florida, the NCCI filed with the state Office of Insurance Regulation a proposal that would lead to an average 5.4% rate decrease for employers, effective Jan. 1, 2020. We’re tracking this Red Zone activity as more states begin addressing WC rates for 2020.
Hurricane Dorian forged a destructive path through the Bahamas this weekend. This was the strongest storm to ever hit the archipelago commonwealth. Dorian is expected to touch off storms in the Southeastern United States, affecting millions of people along the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina this week. Now a Category 2 storm with 110 mph maximum sustained winds, Dorian continues to threaten the East Coast as it is slowly moves in a northwesterly direction. The storm has not yet made landfall on the continental United States.
Anticipating Dorian’s impact in the Southeast, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a Regional Emergency Declaration for AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, PR, and VI. This declaration will be in effect for 30 days. It provides emergency relief for the transport of supplies, equipment, fuel, and people. To all of our readers in harm’s way of this dangerous storm, and to all of those who are bravely serving those in need throughout the Atlantic, we are thinking of you. Stay safe.
Making Our Way Around the Country
Prime Minister Boris Johnson suspended Parliament this week, a move to limit the time opponents can mount a legislative challenge to a "no-deal Brexit." Lawmakers opposed to a no-deal Brexit are expected to attempt to seize the parliamentary schedule and pass a bill to prevent the prime minister from taking Britain out of the European Union on October 31st without a deal. Yesterday, a member of the Conservative Majority Party defected to the Liberal Democrats, which now leaves the government without a working majority. We will also be closely watching this storm across the Atlantic.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to test how drivers can use cameras to replace traditional mirrors in automobiles, a technology already allowed in other countries. NHTSA’s planned tests would examine driving behavior and lane change maneuvers in cars with traditional mirrors and camera-based visibility systems. At the same time, a group of U.S. Senators continue to press NHTSA about a perceived lack of public disclosure about cyber vulnerabilities in internet-connected vehicles. Last month, lawmakers in the Senate reintroduced the Security and Privacy in Your Car Act (SPY Car Act) that would direct NHTSA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish federal standards to ensure cybersecurity in computerized vehicles. Objections to vehicular data breaches are closer than they appear.
The California Legislature approved a bill (SB 240) that would eliminate confusion and delays caused by insurance adjusters who are ill-prepared to handle wildfire losses. The measure also mandates that insurers must provide a single point of contact for customers to make processing claims easier. Senate Bill 240 will help ensure that out-of-state adjusters and insurers have the training to provide accurate information to survivors of future fires. It heads next to Governor Gavin Newsom for a signature. We here at The Way are proud to have worked with our fellow members of the claims industry association to assist the California legislature develop parameters for the licensure provisions of this legislation.
Back to our main story, we expect that diverse teams of underwriters and analysts across the industry will be analyzing large quantities of injury and production data this week. Such loss pick and exposure figures can be essential to inform predictive analytics models critical to your organizations’ weekly outcomes. In other news, businesses around the globe are bracing for an anticipated loss in productivity as fantasy football leagues get under way. Draft well and we’ll see you in week 2.