We know everyone’s been putting out COVID-19 resource guides, but we’ve tried to keep ours short(ish), well-cited, and relevant to our region. Here are five questions that you (or someone you’re close with) have likely asked yourself – feel free to share.
“Will a claim for my COVID-related business closure be covered?”
Unfortunately, brokers like Biggs aren’t the ones making the call on whether a business interruption claim will be paid out – the only way to know for certain is for a claim to be filed and for the insurance companies to make the final decision. However, the OR Division of Financial Regulation has a good FAQ on this subject.
It’s also worth noting that some companies are implementing billing relief policies. And Washingtonians, we’re in luck: on Mar. 27, WA Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler signed an emergency order mandating all property & casualty insurers doing business in our state to “provide grace periods for nonpayment of premium” and to “waive otherwise applicable charges and fees associated with nonpayment of premium, such as late fees and reinstatement fees” through May 9 (read the full text of the order here).
To find out what payment accommodations might be possible for your circumstances, give us a call – (360) 695-3301.
“If my claim’s not covered, does the government provide any recourse?”
Very possibly! Here’s a fact sheet from the U.S. Small Business Administration on low-interest disaster loans they’re making available in designated states (incl. WA & OR) “to small business suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus.” Also, another notable item for WA residents: Gov. Inslee is developing an initiative to create a Small Business Emergency Grant program “using a portion of the state’s Strategic Reserve Fund (SRF).” Keep checking this link to see when applications for these grants go live.
Update (Monday 3/30): on Friday, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) was signed into law. It has provisions for both individuals (expanded unemployment) and employers (payroll tax credits), so it’s definitely worth looking into whatever your situation.
“I’ve been fired/furloughed after my ‘non-essential’ employer was required to shut down; what next?”
First off, we’re sincerely sorry this has happened, and we hope things improve for you soon. Washington’s Employment Security Dept. has a great page for workers affected by COVID-19, including a simple graphic that compares “some of the most common COVID-19 scenarios that may occur and the benefits that may apply.” Oregon’s Employment Dept. has an equivalent resource page.
“As an employer, what should I know about paid leave requirements, and how can I show my employees I care?”
Make sure you read up on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which requires that, for certain circumstances related to COVID-19, all employees who are unable to work/telework will be eligible for up to two weeks of sick leave (full pay for self, 2/3 pay for family care) for illness, quarantine, or school closures; and, for employees that have been employed for at least 30 days, up to twelve weeks of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for school closures (10 days unpaid and then up to 10 weeks at 2/3 pay). Here’s a comprehensive Q&A from the U.S. Dept. of Labor. It goes into effect on April 1, 2020 and expire December 31, 2020; it appears there is no retroactive application.
On a more holistic note: if your workforce is largely remote, and you’re wishing you could offer them tools to help mitigate stress and combat feelings of overwhelm during this unprecedented time, consider this locally-developed program from the Vancouver Wellness Studio – a monthly subscription to their ‘Daily Dose of Wellness’ video series! Here’s a short clip from the clinic director explaining their intent; they’d heard from many businesses in the area that their employees were struggling with isolation, depression, and anxiety, so their team of inter-disciplinary health professionals came together to record daily 5-min videos outlining targeted strategies to encourage well-being: meditations, recipes, exercises, yoga poses, and more. Employers can opt in for $75/month, and there’s no limit on how many individuals can make use of the benefit. Sign up here.
“I’m looking for ways to support our community… what do you suggest?”
The Vancouver Chamber of Commerce has compiled a truly excellent information hub with constantly-updated listings of restaurants still offering takeout and delivery, postings from local businesses that are hiring for temporary and full-time employment, current needs from local charities and aid organizations, and tons more.
All of us at Biggs want you to know that we’re here for you, now and always. We’ll make it through this together and come out stronger on the other side.