I’m sure you have all been inundated with e-mails regarding COVID-19, however, we wanted to share an important bulletin released from the Maine Bureau of Insurance. Many companies are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 and some may face short term layoffs or shut downs as a result. We have received a number of inquiries regarding the ability to maintain group health coverage for employees during a layoff or shut down.
Per the Bureau of Insurance, carriers must allow companies to continue health benefits upon request. Though many insurers had already relaxed rules to achieve this result, this is an important bulletin that answers this question broadly and creates consistency among insurers. This also aligns with the intent most employers have communicated to us, that they want the ability to maintain health benefits during a temporary layoff both to ensure employees have coverage at this important time when they could have a medical need, and to support the message that they intend to bring employees back as soon as circumstances allow.
We have also linked a previously released Maine Department of Labor FAQ that discusses unemployment benefit changes including the fact that coverage under a group health plan will not disqualify an individual from unemployment benefits.
We have also received a number of inquiries regarding short term disability coverage for COVID-19 related absences. Generally speaking, the disability insurers will treat a COVID-19 disability like any other sickness related disability claim which does require actually having the virus and symptoms that result in a physician directed absence. If you want more details please contact our office and we will provide any notices provided by the specific insurer you are utilizing detailing their COVID-19 guidelines.
Please stay safe and healthy and call on us with any questions. Though we are working remotely as many of you are, we are at full staff and working normal business hours