Canadian Underwriter

Pandemic-related employment practices liability claims in Canada may increase, brokerage CEO says

August 12, 2021   by Canadian Underwriter Staff

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While U.S. brokers are seeing a surge in employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) claims due to an increase in pandemic-related lawsuits, brokers north of the border can expect less turmoil, a brokerage CEO says.

Almost 3,000 employment lawsuits related to COVID-19 have been filed in the U.S., according to a pandemic-related litigation tracker assembled by law firm Fisher Phillips. The cases concerned topics as diverse as remote work disputes, workplace health and safety, and return-to-office discrimination.

The lawsuit glut has resulted in climbing premium rates and insurers scaling back their EPLI coverage for companies ahead of an expected wave of return-to-work discrimination claims.

But the same situation is less likely to happen in Canada, “where EPLI lawsuits are more predictable than those in the U.S. and get resolved more quickly,” said Brooke Hunter, president & CEO of Toronto-based Hunters International Insurance Brokers, a member of the Canadian Broker Network.

“Just as the pandemic response in Canada has been more compliant and pragmatic, with most businesses evidently taking a conservative approach, one can imagine that employment practices liability lawsuits may have an uptick. But in general this arena will lack the drama we see south of the border,” Hunter told Canadian Underwriter.

EPLI needed more than ever

The pandemic has also highlighted emerging exposures and employer liability concerns in the workforce, such as work-from-home and hybrid work arrangements, diversity and inclusion issues, and possible vaccine-related policies.

Vaccination-related claims in the U.S. were less than 5% of total COVID-19 lawsuits, according to Fisher Phillips, even as companies like Google and Facebook mandated vaccinations for in-office workers. But the number of claims is expected to increase, the law firm noted.

On home soil, Canadian brokers who guide their clients in understanding the coverages and intricacies of EPLI will help the situation, Hunter said.

“Every EPLI renewal will involve disclosure and discussion around this issue, and proactive brokers will engage their clients beyond just the application,” she said.


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