Workers’ compensation insurance is state-mandated coverage that pays employees’ medical bills and part of their lost wages if they suffer on-the-job injuries or occupational illness. In Washington, D.C., business owners with one or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance and cost an average of 51 cents per $100 of payroll.
Top D.C. Workers’ Compensation Insurance Providers
|Business owners who want affordable workers’ comp with broad coverage plus additional endorsements|
|Business owners who want fast online quotes and automated pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation insurance|
|Business owners in high-risk industries looking for risk management assistance to reduce workers’ comp claims|
|Business owners who want efficient claims services that can help injured employees return to work|
|Business owners who want to be matched with a carrier without filling out multiple applications|
Here are five leading workers’ compensation insurance companies in Washington, D.C.
The Hartford is a large provider with a long history of helping small businesses meet their insurance needs. It has developed a strong workers’ compensation insurance product, especially in top industries like restaurants, retail, and contractors. They are the top workers’ comp provider in Washington, D.C., and cover more than 31 percent of the market.
Business owners who want broad coverage from a financially sound insurer should consider working with The Hartford. The Hartford’s basic policy includes six coverages that most carriers don’t include in their workers’ compensation insurance products. Business owners can also opt for The Hartford’s extended workers’ comp policy that adds five coverages for just a 1% to 3% increase in premium.
AP Intego is a relatively young online insurance brokerage that uses an innovative approach to it easy for business owners to get workers’ compensation insurance. Its platform includes a simplified application that returns immediate quotes for workers’ comp and other essential commercial policies.
In addition to providing instant workers’ comp quotes, AP Intego offers a monthly payment plan that seamlessly integrates with several payroll partners, such as Gusto, Execupay, and Square. AP Intego’s technology charges premiums based on your actual monthly payroll, making them ideal for small business owners who want to spread out their insurance costs.
Travelers is well known for both commercial and personal insurance. It’s the largest workers’ compensation insurance provider in the United States, and the second largest for Washington, D.C. The company’s financial strength and depth of experience in business insurance enable them to write policies in a wide range of industries, including risky ones like contractors and healthcare.
Travelers is the best choice for employers in high-risk industries because it has a history of writing workers’ comp for these businesses and offer a variety of loss control solutions to help employers minimize claims. Policyholders can use Travelers’ online portal to participate in safety training, conduct self-assessments, and monitor data on specific risks.
Liberty Mutual is a large, well-established insurance company that’s been in business for more than 100 years. It sells its products through a network of independent agents and can cover everything from one-person companies to the largest businesses in the U.S. This broad capability led business owners to name them the number one preferred property and casualty provider available through independent agents.
One reason Liberty Mutual is so well-liked is because of its efficient claims service. The company has a dedicated team of professionals responsible for workers’ comp claims. These handlers evaluate claims, provide state-specific workers’ comp forms, and assist injured employees to arrange for medical treatment and lost wages. Liberty Mutual is ideal for small business owners who want to close claims fast and with minimal cost.
Insurance231 is an insurance marketplace that connects small business owners with the carriers and agents who offer workers’ compensation insurance. Business owners submit their information, and Insurance321 matches them to the appropriate insurance provider.
This model is a benefit for busy entrepreneurs who don’t want to waste time filling out applications that end in declines. Insurance321 knows which carriers are willing to insure what risks, so owners can spend less time on getting workers’ comp and more time on building their business.
What Workers’ Compensation Insurance Is
Workers’ compensation insurance is part of a no-fault reimbursement system designed to protect both employers and employees. Employers get policies to cover injured employees’ medical bills and lost wages in exchange for protection from civil suits. Workers’ compensation policies help employees who are sick or injured get back to work.
In some situations, employees may still be able to sue employers for workplace injuries and diseases like if an employee believes his or her employer was reckless or intentionally caused him or her harm. One way employers can protect themselves from these lawsuits is with employers’ liability insurance, which is usually included as part two of workers’ compensation insurance. It pays for your legal defense if an injured employee decides to sue.
What Workers’ Compensation Insurance Covers
State workers’ compensation requirements vary, but most policies cover injuries and illnesses that stem from the injured party’s occupation. However, just because an injury happens at work doesn’t mean it is necessarily a workplace injury. An injury or illness has to occur in the course and scope of employment.
For instance, a construction worker on a job site in Foggy Bottom who falls off a ladder and gets hurt is probably covered as long as he wasn’t goofing off or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The same is usually true for a Capitol Hill copywriter who needs surgery for her carpal tunnel or a NoMa janitor who can show his exposure to harmful chemicals made him sick. However, workers’ comp insurers typically deny claims that involve recreational activities, intoxicated participants, horseplay, or fights.
While workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory in most state, employers typically need other business policies to protect their assets. A simple and affordable way to get that protection is with a business owner’s policy (BOP).
What Washington, D.C., Workers’ Compensation Insurance Covers
Washington, D.C., workers’ compensation insurance covers the costs associated with a workplace injury or occupational illness. These costs typically include medical bills, such as immediate care, ongoing therapy, and prescriptions, plus partial replacement wages and death benefits for families. However, policies only pay if injuries are the direct result of work-related tasks.
According to Washington, D.C., workers’ compensation law, potential claims include:
- Traumatic or single occurrence claims: These injuries are usually the result of a workplace accident, like a fall from a ladder
- Occupational disease claims: Common occupational illnesses include repetitive-stress injuries like back strain or cancers
- Psychiatric claims: Psychological injuries can be compensated if they have an identifiable source within the scope of the injured party’s job
While there are many valid cases for workers’ comp claims, benefits may not be provided if the injured party is receiving workers’ comp benefits from another state is a casual employee or is only temporarily or intermittently employed in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs
Insurers consider three factors when determining workers’ comp premiums. They are the classification rate assigned to jobs by function, the amount of compensation paid to employees, and the employer’s claims history represented by a number called the experience modifier. The average rate in Washington, D.C. is 51 cents per $100 of payroll, according to a report from the National Academy of Social Insurance.
Below is the basic formula for calculating workers’ compensation insurance costs:
Payroll (per $100) X classification rate X experience modifier = Premium
Classification codes and base rates are assigned by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). However, premiums still vary between insurers because of the experience modifier. Workers’ compensation insurance providers assign experience modifiers based on how an employer’s claims history compares to similar businesses.
In the News:
The NCCI recently changed its classification guidelines to allow business owners who have suspended operations during the COVID-19 pandemic but continue to pay employees can exclude that payroll from their workers’ compensation premium calculations. Your insurance agent can help you determine if this rule change impacts your business.
Workers’ Compensation Audit Requirements
Workers’ compensation insurance premiums are traditionally paid at the start of a policy term. Unfortunately, that means they are based on an estimate rather than your figures. To make sure you’re charged the correct amount, insurers audit your premium at the end of your policy term. This can result in the return of excess premium payments or an invoice for any shortfall.
Items you’ll need to prepare for a workers’ compensation audit include:
- Payroll records: These might include your payroll journal, checkbook, federal quarterly tax return (Form 941), and any state unemployment tax records
- Employee records: You may need job descriptions and timecards or other record of hours worked
- Payment records: Information on payments made to subcontractors or casual laborers is often required
- Insurance information: Your insurer may want to see certificates of insurance for subcontractors and independent contractors
Washington, D.C., Workers’ Compensation Insurance Laws
Washington, D.C., workers’ compensation insurance laws require all private employers to get coverage if they have one or more employees. This requirement applies to employers of part-time staff, minors, and domestic workers who work at least 240 hours in a calendar quarter.
Employees exempt from Washington, D.C., workers’ compensation insurance laws include:
- Farm laborers
- Commercial boat captains and crews
- Casual laborers
- Railroad workers
- Federal employees
Workers’ compensation insurance is not required for sole proprietors or partners in the nation’s capital, but they have the option of purchasing workers’ comp for self-employed individuals. Conversely, corporate officers and limited liability company members are included in coverage but may opt out as can licensed real estate brokers and agents.
Washington, D.C., Workers’ Compensation Insurance Requirements
Employers in Washington, D.C., are subject to numerous workers’ compensation insurance requirements. Most of these requirements facilitate communication between employers, employees, insurers, and the state, which is valuable in the claims process.
Workers’ compensation insurance requirements for Washington, D.C., employers include:
- Displaying this notice in their places of business
- Keeping records of all worker injuries
- Providing access to reasonable medical care, hospital services, remedial care, and vocational rehabilitation
- Filing an Employer’s First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease with the Office of Workers’ Compensation
- Sending a copy of the employers’ report to their insurers’ nearest claims office
- Directing injured employees to file an Employee’s First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease with the Office of Workers’ Compensation
- Sending employees a notice of their rights and obligations by certified mail, return receipt requested
- Obtaining appropriate workers’ compensation forms from your insurer or the Office of Workers’ Compensation
- Refraining from firing or discriminating against employees who file a claim or who testify in support of a claim
Failure to comply with these regulations can result in penalties, including fines and even jail time. These are highlighted in the next section.
Washington, D.C., Workers’ Compensation Insurance Penalties
Workers’ compensation is legally required for employers in the District of Columbia. Small businesses with one or more employees that fail to maintain coverage can be fined or even be put in jail, depending on the severity of their offense.
The penalties for not following Washington, D.C., workers’ compensation laws include:
- Failure to report a workplace injury:Up to $1,000 in fines
- Failure to secure compensation coverage: Between $1,000 and $10,000 in fines
- Terminating or otherwise discriminating against an employee who participates in a workers’ comp claim: Up to $1,000 in fines
- Falsifying employment records to avoid compensating injured employees: Between $1,000 and $10,000 in fines or up to one year in jail
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Employees are responsible for filing workers’ compensation insurance claims. However, both employees and their employers have obligations under Washington, D.C., laws. It’s important to follow these steps carefully to comply with Washington, D.C., law and avoid any workers’ comp penalties.
The six steps to file a workers’ compensation insurance claim in Washington, D.C., include:
- Worker reports an injury or illness to the employer: Prompt reporting is important for getting injured employees their benefits.
- Employer notifies workers of their rights: Once the employer is aware of an injury, they must send the employee a notice of their rights and obligations by certified mail.
- Worker reports an injury or illness to the Office of Workers’ Compensation: Employees have 30 days to alert the OWC by submitting an Employee’s Notice of Accidental Injury or Occupational Disease (Form OWC-7).
- Employer reports employee’s injury or illness to the OWC: Employers have 10 days after becoming aware of an injury to submit an Employer’s Notices of Accidental Injury or Occupational Disease (Form OWC 8) with the OWC.
- Worker submits a claim for workers’ compensation benefits: An employee who wants to receive workers’ comp benefits must file Form OWC 7A with the OWC and their employer within one year of occurrence or awareness.
- Insurer reviews claim: The insurance provider has 14 days to either accept the claim and start benefits or send notice of denial.
If an employee feels their workers’ compensation claim has been wrongly denied, they have the right to appeal the insurer’s decision. The first step in the appeals process is an informal conference where a claims examiner issues a recommendation. If this doesn’t settle the dispute, the case moves on to a formal hearing process.
Tips on Getting Washington, D.C., Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Some tips for getting workers’ compensation insurance include comparing rates and managing insurance risk.
Compare Workers’ Compensation Rates
Employers sometimes assume that workers’ compensation premiums are set in stone because they’re partly based on payroll and standard class codes. However, insurers also factor in your claims experience and their willingness to cover your particular business, so costs vary, making it important to compare quotes.
Manage Workers’ Compensation Insurance Risk
Les Boden, professor of environmental health at Boston University School of Public Health and chair of the study panel on workers’ compensation data for The National Academy of Sciences, says workers’ comp is important to employers for two reasons.
You can manage your workers’ comp risk and improve working conditions by providing safety training, removing hazards, and instituting employee wellness programs. These actions can, in turn, reduce your workers’ compensation premiums.
Assign Employees the Correct Class Code
Class codes are a major factor in determining workers’ compensation premiums because they represent the risk each employee faces in their job. These risks vary greatly in some businesses. For example, a Georgetown contractor might have employees at worksites and in an office. The employees at worksites cost more to insure, so their class codes are different from the office workers. You want to assign the correct class code so that you pay the correct premium.
Washington, D.C., Workers’ Compensation Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Hopefully, this article has answered your questions about Washington, D.C., workers’ compensation insurance. If not, we’ve answers a few of the most frequently asked questions below.
1. Do Nannies Need Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Most states require workers’ compensation for household staff, including nannies, maids, and gardeners. However, each state has its own conditions for when this applies. For instance, the District of Columbia only requires coverage when a domestic worker clocks 240 hours or more in a calendar quarter.
2. What If I Can’t Get Workers’ Compensation From an Insurer?
Employers who can’t get coverage from private insurers usually have other options. Some states have a workers’ compensation fund that insures employers that have been declined by private insurers. Washington, D.C., places these employers in an assigned risk plan to ensure all employers have the required workers’ comp coverage. Washington, D.C.’s assigned risk plan is administered by NCCI Holdings, Inc.
The Bottom Line
Workers’ compensation insurance is compulsory for any Washington, D.C., employer who has one or more employees. Even homeowners who hire domestic workers may need coverage if their employees meet the criteria. To meet workers’ comp requirements and avoid penalties, Washington, D.C., employers need to get the required workers’ compensation coverage.
The Hartford can help employers in Washington, D.C., get adequate workers’ compensation insurance coverage. It offers broad workers’ comp coverage for many of the top industries in Washington, D.C., and business owners can tailor their policies with riders that provide additional protection for minimal cost.