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Editorial: Employer Responsibility Reforms Key to States’ Economic Recovery

Amidst lives lost and prolonged hardship, the response to the pandemic ushered in an unprecedented wave of political polarization that has hurt the country.

But states across the country are finding a new cause for broad bipartisanship by laying the groundwork for economic recovery.

Indeed, last month, North Dakota became the 43e State to advance employee safety measures and employer liability protections, which are key elements in moving forward together. As public health and safety guidelines have changed throughout the pandemic, businesses have seized the opportunity, striving to comply with ever-changing government guidelines and implementing new measures and precautions to protect customers and employees.

These private sector organizations remain at the heart of the response to Covid-19. Yet in 2020 and 2021, thousands of Covid-19-related lawsuits were filed against a wide range of businesses, including airlines, software companies, cruise lines, shopping malls, restaurants, manufacturers, hotels, medical providers and schools. Without smart political action, these lawsuits posed a serious threat to our fragile economy.

In response, states across the country have championed bipartisan and innovative ways to give more confidence and control over how businesses and healthcare providers can protect their employees and reopen safely for their customers and their communities. These public policy efforts have brought much needed relief to nonprofits, schools, places of worship and local governments. Additionally, many states have acted to protect companies that have taken extraordinary steps to design, manufacture, label, sell and distribute personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfection supplies when we need them most.

As the pace of our reopening increases, these new laws provide businesses and community organizations with increased peace of mind and greater clarity on how to follow public health guidelines. Most importantly, they offer additional protection against the threat of frivolous lawsuits.

The persistent and entrenched abuse of litigation negatively impacts the ability of businesses to grow and create jobs and the ability of communities to thrive. Employer liability protections adopted by many states will allow businesses to resume operations in a way that protects employees and customers. At the same time, these reforms will help reduce the skyrocketing tort costs to every household, estimated to average $ 3,329 per year nationwide before the pandemic strikes.

The members of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association take pride in insuring the many organizations and private sector stakeholders who are supporting our nation’s fight to recover from this unprecedented pandemic. We look forward to continuing to help provide financial security for families, individuals, communities and businesses.

Significant legal reforms in 43 states are essential to rebuilding our economy and getting people back to work. Insurers applaud state lawmakers for their leadership in prioritizing employee safety and prudent protections of employer liability. We encourage federal lawmakers to support these efforts and build on the work of states in the same bipartisan fashion.

David Sampson is President and CEO of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), the trade association representing nearly 60% of the US property and casualty insurance market.

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