Attn: Contractors involved in resolving insurance claims.
During this unexpected and unpredictable pandemic, many insurance policyholders attempting to resolve claims with their insurance companies are also dealing with economic hardship and a lack of access to the California court system. Should you find yourself in this predicament, rest assured the California Department of Insurance (DOI) is addressing the situation head-on.
On April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council of California issued emergency rules governing the California court system during the COVID-19 pandemic. While not all of the emergency rules listed are applicable to claims settlements contractors might find themselves into, there are two that are specific to legal situations an insurance claim might encounter.
The California DOI was informed that some California insurers and other professionals active in the business of insurance claims are unfairly taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis by providing very low settlement offers, all while knowing that the need for claim payouts are high and that recourse to the civil court system within California is currently severely limited.
Taking all of this into account, let’s review parts of the California Unfair Practices Act so you know your protections and can take legal action if needed. The Act outlines several practices that constitute unfair methods of competition, deceptive acts or practices, including but not limited to:
Be advised, the Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara intends to exercise, to the full extent of his authority under the Unfair Claims Practices Act, all available administrative remedies including significant civil penalties against any persons in the California insurance industry who knowingly commits or perform any of the mentioned unfair claims settlement practices set forth in the Act.
Information courtesy of CCIS: https://www.ccisbonds.com/content/87-covid19-protection-for-policyholders-from-unfair-settlement-practices.htm
Earlier this week, San Francisco, in tandem with five other Bay Area counties — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara — announced extensions "through May" to their respective shelter-in-place orders.
SRBX has written a joint letter to each of the Bay Area Public Health Directors detailing the enhance safety protocols and CDC guidelines that construction sites are implementing and urged each county to align with state orders by recognizing all construction as “essential” and include all aspects of construction to their revised orders. Read letter here.
Information from SMUD
SMUD's commitment to not shutting off power for non-payment has been extended through May 30th. The link to all SMUD COVID responses can be found at:
Due to the current COVID-19 health crisis, OSHA has granted permission for certain OSHA numbered classes to be presented via a pilot study using a live, online video-based delivery system. SRBX’s partners with the OSHA Training Institute Education Center at Chabot-Las Positas are offering SRBX members a 50% discount on classes not at maximum enrollment.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
Interest in PPP was very high and all funds were lent out by April 15, 2020. The addition of $320B is expected to pass the House of Representatives on 4/23, with President Trump expected to sign into law shortly thereafter. The specific availability date of funds with authorized lenders is not yet known.
Interested small businesses should visit the SBA PPP website or speak with their banking institution for more information on program requirements.
Update on PPP and EIDL Loans
The funding capacity for The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) have both been reached as of April 15. Applications have been closed.
Congress is currently working on an additional stimulus package to increase the capacity of both the PPP and EIDL programs and the hope is that they can resolve their issues and come to an agreement to continue both programs.
SRBX continues to advocate to our regional Congressional representatives for additional stimulus funds.
OSHA Issues COVID-19 Interim Enforcement Response Plan
Continuing its recent trend to update employers on COVID-19 safety, on April 13, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), providing specific guidance to all OSHA Regional Administrators and State Plan Designees on how to investigate potential COVID-19 hazards. The guidance addresses how OSHA offices should allocate resources for protecting workers across all industries. Here Cal/OSHA has a plethora of resources on their COVID-19 page
Governor Newsom Outlines Six Critical Indicators the State will Consider Before Modifying the Stay-at-Home Order
Newsom unveiled six key indicators that will guide California’s thinking for when and how to modify the stay-at-home and other orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
California’s six indicators for modifying the stay-at-home order are:
The Governor said there is not a precise timeline for modifying the stay-at-home order, but that these six indicators will serve as the framework for making that decision. Newsom has issued 29 executive orders since March – you can see the list here.