RE: Temporary Policy for WGAT Employers/Furloughed Employees

Dear Valued Member:

Western Growers Assurance Trust (WGAT) recognizes the uncertainty and challenges the agricultural community is facing and we want to assure you that we remain dedicated to serving our members during this pandemic. We understand some businesses have had to operate on reduced schedules and even suspend operations. Due to these hardships, and in order to best serve you and your employees, we have developed a furlough policy to help our members mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
As you may recall, WGAT recently distributed a communication regarding mandatory and voluntary health plan changes to help you during this current situation. Similar to the other changes we have made to Doctor on Demand, expansion of telehealth services, waived fees for COVID-19 screening, suspending prescription fill/refill limitations and refill waiting periods, this is another voluntary plan change that will allow employers to extend health benefits coverage during an employee’s furlough period. The policy outlined below will allow employees who were already covered by WGAT to remain on your plan.

The new terms for our furlough policy include the following:

  1. WGAT will relax the hours worked requirement for employee eligibility, applicable only to employees who are currently covered on the WGAT plan.
  2. WGAT will recognize eligibility for employees who would otherwise lose coverage due to not meeting the minimum hours worked requirement as a result of the current COVID-19 crisis.
  3. This relaxation of the hours worked requirement must be administered at the company level and cannot be applied to certain employees while not offered to others.
  4. Employers who elect this option will need to update their written eligibility policies and make such documentation available to WGAT upon request.
  5. Enrollment during this temporary relaxation of hours worked requirement must be at least 50% of the prior month’s enrollment. 
  6. Employees who drop coverage during this temporary period will not be deemed late enrollees upon their return to work.
  7. Employers may temporarily revise their share of the contribution payment to 100% during this temporary period, then return to their normal contribution policy at the conclusion of the COVID-19 crisis.
  8. This relaxation of hours provision does not apply to employees who would otherwise lose eligibility as a result of normal seasonal layoffs.
  9. This special relaxation of hours provision is offered during the COVID-19 crisis and will sunset on June 30, 2020, unless notice of an extension is provided.

If you have any questions about this furlough policy, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your designated account manager. Thank you for your continued trust and confidence in WGAT.
David Zanze
Executive Vice President
Western Growers Assurance Trust