Bolton’s Education Practice Group is working closely with our schools and campus communities to ensure that they have all the necessary information they need to best navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we move toward the second month of organizational disruption, the biggest questions we continue to hear are, “What’s going to happen next?” and “How will this impact my insurance?”
To be clear, the pandemic situation is still active and dynamic, so it’s not feasible to provide definitive, concrete answers to either question at this time. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, things can change suddenly and swiftly.
Rather, it’s our focus to keep our clients informed of the most pertinent developments and adjust our strategies according to the latest data we have available.
The following provides some important developments that we’re currently monitoring for our education clients and partners.
Update on Insurance Refund for Schools
Earlier in the month, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara issued an order for all commercial and personal insurance carriers to reduce policyholder premiums commensurate with reduction of exposure related to COVID-19.
This includes reductions in payroll, sales and driving exposure through March and April of this year. For independent schools, this will have specific impact on:
- Commercial automobile
- Commercial liability
- Commercial multiple peril
- Private passenger automobile
- Workers’ Compensation
- Additional coverage premium impacted by the pandemic
Insurance carriers will ultimately be responsible for the implementation of this order and are required to report their methodology to the Department of Insurance within 60 days of the initial bulletin (which was released on April 13, 2020).
Within 120 days of the bulletins issuance, it’s required that the program be implemented and that impacted policyholders notified.
You Won’t Receive a Refund Overnight
Some of our clients have encountered solicitations surrounding this refund, several of which have blatantly asked the question, “Have you received your insurance premium refund?”
The answer is no. No school has yet to receive a premium refund and insurance companies have up to four months (taking into account the 120 day timeline) to develop, submit and approve said refunds.
Until this process between the insurers and the Department of Insurance is fulfilled to completion, it’s impossible to secure any type of refund—please disregard any sales marketing that says otherwise.
Paycheck Protection Program Passed
The Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Health Care Enhancement Act on April 21, 2020. This provides an additional $310 billion for the PPP, an additional $50 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) loans, and an additional $10 billion for EIDL grants (the advance).
We recently wrote a blog covering the additional requirements schools will face if they request federal aid. Click here to read more about this.
Guidance from Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released updated guidance on COVID-19 and various civil rights laws such as accommodations, medical testing and hiring and onboarding during this time.
FTC-DOJ Antitrust Warning
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will continue to be on alert for illegal anticompetitive behavior in the areas of compensation, benefits, hours worked, hiring and retention of workers and other terms of employment. Independent schools should note that educational institutions are not immune and be aware of these issues.
New/Updated CDC Guidance
The CDC issued guidance for persons considering traveling within the United States, as well as guidance for visiting playgrounds and playing sports/activities. It also updated guidance for childcare centers that remain open.
Our colleagues at The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) just updated their Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Schools FAQ, which provides much more detail on many of the developments above and those specific to schools.
The most crucial aspect of navigating this pandemic is effective communication. As we begin to return to some sense of normalcy, there will be many challenges and hard decisions to make. We are encouraging our school leaders to have those discussion now and not when the “dust settles.”
Our continual approach with our clients has been one of best practice that’s in alignment with local, state and federal guidance.
We encourage this approach and will continue to monitor developments from health, safety and insurance officials and provide the most pertinent information as it is provided.