To say these are trying times would be a MASSIVE understatement. From business closures, trying to figure out a new way to operate your business (if at all possible) to dealing with staffing (layoffs, reduced hours, creative scheduling), it’s overwhelming.
If you’re a small business owner, I’ve put together this list of resources for you. Loan availability, Sick Leave legislation, and of course lots of information about all types of insurance. Although I'm not an expert for most of these topics, I want YOU to have one place for the questions/concerns that affect you as an Ohio small business owner. Please note that this is the most current information based on TODAY. Information is changing daily (sometimes even hourly), so please visit each individual website noted for the most up to date info.
Small Business Administration (SBA) loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) for working capital to Ohio small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza announced. SBA acted under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, to declare a disaster following a request received from Gov. Mike DeWine on March 17, 2020.
Highlights of Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program:
• Used to cover fixed and variable costs during the projected coronavirus event time horizon
• No Application Fee
• Unsecured loans up to $25,000
• Secured loans in amounts $25,000 - $2,000,000
• Fixed rate of 3.75% (for-profit businesses) and 2.75% (for non-profit businesses)
• Up to 30-year term (will be determined during underwriting)
• Expected disbursement of funds within 30 days of SBA receiving a complete application
• 12-month deferral of payments after signing of promissory note
Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications. You may also call the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955.
Families First Coronavirus Act- paid sick leave plus expansion of FMLA
The Families First Coronavirus Act was recently signed by President Trump and takes effect on April 2, 2020. The Act’s provisions expire December 31, 2020. This expands FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) and paid sick leave access to employees who work at businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
Highlights are shown below:
Paid Sick Leave - 2 weeks of paid sick leave immediately available to all employees (no required number of days worked) who cannot work or telework due to coronavirus infection, quarantine, or experiencing sign/symptoms AND is seeking medical diagnosis. Rate of pay will be either full or 2/3 of regular pay rate, depending on the reason for the sick leave.
FMLA - for employees who have worked 30 days or more, this provides job protected leave for 10 weeks to employees who are not able to work or telework due to the following:
1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
5. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
6. is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.
Please note: Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. We are still waiting to see what this would mean.
For complete details and to see the most up to date announcements, please visit the Department of Labor website.
Lots to talk about here. Let’s break it down by type of insurance.
To help businesses facing difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation announced that unpaid insurance premium installment amounts due for March, April, and May for the current policy year can be deferred until June 1, 2020. BWC will consider the issue further as we approach June 1, 2020. BWC will not refund amounts to employers who have already paid some or all of their premiums that were scheduled to be paid during those months.
Employers that wish to submit payments for March, April, and May are free to do so, but BWC will not lapse (cancel) coverage or assess penalties for amounts not paid because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Ohio BWC has released a helpful Frequently Asked Questions document related to COVID-19). Read it here. It includes Q & A for both employers and employees.
The Ohio Department of Insurance is issuing an order to allow employers a grace period for group health insurance premiums. All health insurers must provide the option to defer premium payments interest free up to 60 calendar days from the original premium due date. Read the full press release.
Property & Casualty Insurance
Payment extensions & deferments
For those who may suddenly be faced with a difficulty paying their premium, contact your insurance carrier or agent immediately. Several of our carriers are allowing payment extensions and deferments. But you have to ask first.
Suspension of cancellations due to non-payment
Also, several of our carriers have issued suspensions on cancellations due to non-payment for a set period of time. What this means is that policies will NOT cancel due to a non-payment issue during the time set. PLEASE note this does not apply to ALL companies so call your agent or company FIRST and ask. This is here for informational purposes only, but you have to know the information to know to ask the questions.
General Liability Insurance
For those that have policies rated based on a sales or payroll figure and you’re going to experience a DROP in those numbers, call your agent or company. Some carriers are allowing mid-term adjustments of those figures to help with your premium payments. But again, you need to know of your options so you can ask the questions.
This has been the #1 insurance question asked. I've had many discussions with our underwriters and read our carriers policy forms. As a GENERAL rule, business interruption is triggered by direct physical loss. Examples include a fire, tornado (or other wind), or hurricane (just a few of the most common examples) that make a business unable to operate. This virus doesn't fall under the direct physical loss category. So the chance for any coverage is slim.
That being said, we've also been advised by our carriers that in the event of any doubt, you should submit the claim and let the company do its investigation. The worst that can happen is the denial of the claim. Again, CALL your agent or company directly for guidance.
Again, please visit any of the websites mentioned above for the most up to date information. Also for any insurance-related questions, please call your Agent or Company directly. If you need to discuss your insurance, please call us. If you're not our customer, please request your Ohio insurance quote or contact us. We're happy to help! Be well and stay healthy.