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The Insurance Journal reports that workers’ compensation insurers in at least two states have decided that they will guarantee workers’ compensation benefits for health care workers and first responders.

Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance Co. announced Friday that effective immediately it will pay wage-replacement benefits for any first responder or employee in the medical field who is quarantined because of direct exposure to a person diagnosed with COVID-19.

Ryan Worthern, communications director for KEMI, said the insurer’s staff decided to adopt the policy, but informed its board of directors and Gov. Andy Beshear of the decision.

KEMI’s announcement follows a decision March 5 by the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries to pay wage-loss and medical treatment expenses for any health care worker or first responder who is quarantined because of coronavirus exposure.

Washington operates a monopoly workers’ comp system, so that policy impacts every employee in the state who is covered by the state system.

L&I spokesman Tim Church said the department has already received several workers’ compensation claims due to coronavirus exposure, but he did not know if they were filed by medical or health care workers. Church said a quarantine normally would not be covered by workers’ comp unless the worker was made ill by workplace exposure.

Church said coronavirus claims by Washington workers outside of health care or emergency services will be decided on a case-by-case basis according to the state workers’ compensation statutes.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance, a rate advisory organization for most U.S. states, said last week that it remains to be seen whether other states will follow Washington state’s lead. NCCI said that many state workers’ comp statutes exclude “ordinary diseases of life” such as the common cold or flu.

However, NCCI said at least 10 states have issued mandates for coverage of coronavirus by health insurers. The directives vary, but include coverage for testing and visits to emergency rooms or urgent care facilities without deductibles or copays, NCCI said. “These measures, if expanded to more states, could have the impact of limiting claim activity in the WC market in those cases where only testing or quarantine are necessary,” NCCI said.

Two insurance carriers gave notice of their stand toward the coming workers’ comp claims in notices last week: Texas Mutual Insurance Co. and SAIF, Oregon’s state-chartered workers’ comp insurer, both issued bulletins that said they will decide whether coronavirus exposure is compensable on a case-by-case basis.

Texas Mutual added this caveat: “However, the more widespread COVID-19 becomes, the more difficult it may be for the employee to show that it is work related rather than an ordinary disease of life to which the general public is exposed.”