Menu Close

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California has released its COVID-19 in California Workers’ Compensation report, which details the characteristics of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims in California and their impact on the state’s workers’ compensation system.

In total, including denied claims, almost 160,000 COVID-19 claims have been reported to the Division of Workers’ Compensation as of early September 2021. About 43% of COVID-19 claims have been reported by self-insured employers. Typically, about one-third of non-COVID-19 claims are self-insured employer claims. With the Delta variant, those numbers are likely to grow.

More than one-half of COVID-19 claims were incurred by workers with ages between 16 and 39, which is somewhat higher than the proportion of all indemnity claims incurred by younger workers.

In a typical year, about 600,000 workers’ compensation claims of all types are filed.

In the early months of the pandemic, the ratio of workers’ compensation claims to infections was high with a statewide stay-at-home order, a relatively broad presumption of compensability and most claims arising from healthcare workers and first responders. The high share of healthcare COVID-19 claims has been relatively consistent throughout the pandemic.

The winter surge was severe in California with about one-half the infections and workers’ compensation claims arising during that period. In December 2020, at the height of the winter surge, more than one-third of all indemnity claims were COVID-19 claims.

Since the rollout of the vaccines in early 2021, the ratio of workers’ compensation claims relative to infections has been relatively low. After dropping sharply in the spring of 2021 following the rollout of the vaccines, the proportion of COVID-19 claims have recently increased somewhat with the Delta variant.

About 22% of the COVID-19 death claims reported in WCIRB transaction data are from the healthcare sector. COVID-19 death claims are often reported relatively late. As a result, totals for 2021 will likely increase. Almost 80% of COVID-19 death claims were incurred by workers aged 50 years or older compared to about one-third of all indemnity claims.

Denial rates on COVID-19 claims have been higher than on non-COVID-19 claims as only about 7% of non-COVID-19 claims are denied. Many COVID-19 claims are denied due to the lack of a positive test result for a COVID-19 infection.

Virtually all COVID-19 indemnity-only claims close quickly as they typically involve only short durations of TD. COVID-19 claims with both medical and indemnity benefits on average close more quickly than the typical indemnity claim as more have relatively small incurred values.