Florida workers’ compensation insurance laws mandate business owners in most industries carry coverage when they have four or more employees. In construction, however, employers must have workers’ comp even if they have only one employee. According to the most recent data, Florida employers pay $1.43 per $100 of payroll annually for workers’ compensation.
If you’re looking for broad but affordable coverage, consider getting a quote from The Hartford. Its workers’ comp policy offers additional coverage options that other carriers typically charge for. Moreover, you may be eligible for a discount if you bundle your workers’ comp with a business owner’s policy (BOP).
What Are Florida Workers’ Compensation Requirements?
Florida workers’ compensation requirements for coverage vary depending on your industry, according to the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC):
- Nonconstruction industry: These business owners must get workers’ comp insurance once they have four full-time or part-time employees.
- Construction industry: Construction industry business owners have to get coverage once they hire a full-time or part-time employee.
- Agricultural industry: Business owners in agriculture need workers’ comp if they have six or more regular employees and/or 12 or more seasonal employees who work more than 30 days in a season but no more than 45 days in a year.
Florida also requires out-of-state employers to carry Florida workers’ compensation coverage, unless the employer’s home state allows for extraterritorial reciprocity, and the work is temporary. In that case, the employer can use the workers’ comp policy issued in the home state.
Who Is an Employee for Workers’ Comp?
Florida law defines an employee as anyone who gets paid for work, whether they are hired, appointed, or apprenticed. This includes foreigners and minors. Additionally, state law extends the definition of employee to people in certain industries, including:
- Nonconstruction: Corporate officers and members of a limited liability company (LLC)
- Construction: Corporate officers, LLC members, partners, and sole proprietors
Who Is an Independent Contractor for Workers’ Comp?
First, the construction industry does not have independent contractors in Florida. People are either business owners or employees. However, other industries can have independent contractors, and the DWC is very clear about what defines them. Four of the six following criteria must be met for a worker to be considered an independent contractor:
- Maintains their own business with its own work facility, equipment, truck, materials, or similar accommodations
- Holds or has applied for their own federal employer identification number (EIN)
- Receives compensation as a business would rather than an individual
- Has one or more bank accounts in the name of the business entity
- Takes on or can take on jobs with other businesses
- Receives compensation for work on a competitive-bid basis or completion of a task as defined by a contract
How to Get a Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance Exemption
Corporate officers and LLC members with at least 10% ownership in the business can apply for a workers’ comp exemption for themselves. To do so, they need to apply for a Certificate of Election to be Exempt from Florida’s workers’ compensation law. Employers can apply online.
While opting out of workers’ compensation saves on premium, it also means that the exempted employee does not receive benefits if the employee suffers a workplace accident. As a result, some business owners decide they need workers’ comp even when it’s not required.
Where Can I Get Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Florida?
Florida has an open market for workers’ comp, which means business owners can shop for coverage from more than 250 private insurers licensed to sell workers’ compensation in the state. Our list of top workers’ comp providers focuses mainly on national and regional carriers that write the policies they sell. Florida business owners also can work with a broker who can help them compare offers from multiple insurers.
Top Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance Companies
Broad coverage at a good price
Saving money and free certificates of insurance
Comparing offers from multiple carriers with no broker’s fees
Agricultural businesses that want to work with a local insurer
Florida independent contractors and businesses with 10 or fewer employees
The Hartford is a well-known national insurer that is an ideal choice for most small business owners looking for workers’ compensation in Florida. The company’s basic workers’ comp policy automatically includes six coverage options that typically cost extra, including coverage for volunteers and employees not entitled to benefits and costs you incur when assisting in a claim. The Hartford also offers up to 10% off of workers’ comp when it’s combined with a BOP.
Business owners who want to save money on their workers’ compensation insurance should submit an application to biBERK. While biBERK is a new insurer, it was developed by insurance giant Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group to cater to the needs of small business owners. The company claims to save business owners up to 20% on their workers’ comp premiums and provides free certificates of insurance whenever you need them.
CyberPolicy is an online insurance broker, which means it partners with multiple carriers to offer quotes for workers’ comp and other insurance policies for Florida businesses. This gives business owners a chance to compare offers and pick the one that best fits their budget. Unlike most brokers, online or otherwise, CyberPolicy does not charge an additional broker’s fee for its services.
FCCI Insurance Group is an excellent choice for a wide range of agribusinesses, including cattle farmers, seed dealers, and wholesale nurseries. These businesses can benefit from the local insights and workers’ comp experience of this Florida-based carrier. Plus, FCCI can write workers’ comp and other common business insurance policies, so business owners may be able to get all of their policies through one carrier.
Florida microbusinesses and independent contractors should consider getting a quote from WorkCompOne. Insurance agents often avoid working with smaller businesses because it’s the same amount of work for a lower commission, but that’s not an issue for WorkCompOne. As an online broker, the company can provide the volume insurance carriers require so it can offer quotes to businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
Brand new businesses and businesses in risky industries like construction or manufacturing may also be declined for coverage. If you’ve been rejected by two carriers in the last 60 days, you can apply with the Florida Workers’ Compensation Joint Underwriting Association, a self-funding group that provides coverage for hard-to-insure businesses.
How Much Does Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cost?
The National Association of Social Insurance reports that the average cost of a workers’ compensation policy in Florida is $1.43 per $100 of payroll per year. However, costs can vary greatly because insurers base your premium on your payroll, the work your employees do, and your workers’ comp claims history.
The basic formula for calculating workers’ comp premiums is:
Classification Code Rate x Payroll / $100 x Experience Modification Factor = Premium
Employees are grouped by their work and assigned a classification code and rate. This rate is multiplied by the payroll divided by $100 for each employee with that classification code to come up with most businesses’ base rate. Businesses with more than $10,000 in premium over two years may also have an experience modification factor, or e-mod. This number represents how a business’ claims history compares to similar businesses.
In the News:
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the organization that Florida follows for its workers’ comp rates, recently announced rule changes that may impact your premium. Due to COVID-19, employers who have paused operations but who continue to pay employees can reclassify these workers and exclude the pay from their workers’ comp premium calculations. Reach out to your carrier to see how this rule change impacts your business.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Cost Example
Here’s how the basic workers’ comp formula works in Florida. Let’s say you run a tree trimming company with three employees, all of whom make $50,000. One worker prunes trees (class code 0106), another sells your services (class code 8742), and the third does office work (class code 8810).
This is what you find when you look up the rate for these class codes:
8742 Sales Professional
5183 Tree Trimming - Pruning - Removal
From there, you can determine your starting rate:
Clerical worker (17 cents x $500) $85.00
Sales rep (35 cents x $500) $175.00
Tree trimmer ($10.90 x $850) $5,450.00
Base workers’ comp premium $5,710.00
Again, that is only your starting rate. If your business qualifies for an experience modification rating, then your premium may increase or decrease depending on how your claims history compares to businesses of a similar size in your industry. The average e-mod is one, so a business that compares favorably with others may have an e-mod of 0.80 that reduces its premium.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance Premium Credits
Some Florida businesses also can qualify for the following premium credits to help reduce their costs:
- Safety program premium credit: Business owners who set up a safety program that meets Florida’s requirements can earn a 2% discount
- Drug-free workplace premium credit: Business owners who establish a drug-free workplace, as described by the DWC, can earn a 5% discount.
- Florida Contracting Classification Premium Adjustment Program (FCCPAP): Contractors who self-insure and whose payroll is greater than $10 per hour may qualify for a credit between 5% to 25%.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Audit Requirements
Because workers’ compensation premiums are based on an estimate of your payroll, your insurer performs an audit when your policy ends to determine if you paid the correct amount. This makes it a good idea to work with your auditor in general, but it’s especially important in Florida. Failing to provide reasonable access to payroll records can result in a fine of up to three times the most recent estimated annual premium.
Some of the paperwork you might need for workers’ comp premium audit includes:
- State and federal reports of employee income
- Subcontractors’ certificates of insurance
- Employee job descriptions
What Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cover in Florida?
Workers’ compensation insurance is a program that’s available in most states that assists employees who suffer an occupational injury or illness. In Florida, workers’ comp pays:
- Medical benefits: Can cover doctor visits, hospitalizations, physical therapy, prostheses, and reasonable travel expenses to authorized healthcare providers
- Wage replacement benefits: Pays approximately two-thirds of the injured employee’s regular weekly wage if the employee is unable to work or earns less because of the injury
- Death benefits: Covers funeral costs, compensates surviving dependents, and pays educational benefits for a surviving spouse
Florida’s DWC also offers reemployment services for employees whose injuries keep them from returning to the position they previously held. Services include vocational counseling, resume writing, transferable skills analysis, and job search assistance. Individuals can request assistance by completing the application found at the DWC’s Injured Employee Web Portal.
What Isn’t Covered By Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Like most states, Florida’s workers’ compensation laws limit coverage to work-related injuries and diseases. This means policies do not cover employee’s injuries if they are the result of intentional self-harm or intoxication. Florida workers’ compensation insurance policies also exclude mental injuries caused by stress, fright, or excitement. It also won’t cover conditions that cause the employee to dislike or fear another individual because of their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or handicap.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance Penalties
Business owners who do not comply with Florida’s workers’ compensation requirements may face a stop-work order that requires they halt all operations until they comply and pay a penalty. The penalty is two times the amount of the business’s base workers’ comp rate from the previous two years.
Florida business owners may receive a stop-work order if they:
- Understate or conceal payroll
- Misrepresent or conceal employee duties
- Make other attempts to avoid paying the proper amount of premium
Additionally, employers who are slow to report a claim can be fined:
- $100 for being one to seven days late
- $200 for being eight to 14 days late
- $300 for being 15 to 21 days late
- $400 for being 22 to 28 days late
- $500 for being over 28 days late
Florida’s Division of Investigative and Forensic Services may file criminal charges for these and other violations, such as violating a stop-work order, making false statements to get workers’ comp or reduce premiums, and firing an employee who makes a workers’ comp claim.
How Do I File a Workers’ Comp Claim in Florida?
The statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim in Florida is two years. However, employees first need to report any work-related injuries within 30 days of the date of the accident and occupational illnesses within 30 days from the date of diagnosis. Otherwise, their claims could be denied.
After the employee reports an injury, the employer needs to:
- Give the employee the name of an authorized physician: Employees must see a doctor authorized by the employer or its insurance company. If it’s an emergency, the employee should go to an emergency room and alert their employer to the incident as soon as possible
- Report the injury to the insurance company: Employers have seven days to notify its insurer by either submitting a First Report of Injury or Illness or by telephone so that the insurer can complete the form. If the employer refuses to report the claim, the employee may contact the insurer.
- Report required wage information to the insurance company: Once an employer learns an injury will keep an employee from working for more than seven days, the employer has 14 days to submit a Wage Statement to the insurer.
The insurer’s claims adjuster will contact the injured employee, often within 24 hours, to evaluate the claim. Within three to five days, either the employer or the employee will receive a packet explaining the employee’s rights and responsibilities. This packet may include information like:
- A letter explaining the services offered by the Employee Assistance Office of the Division of Workers’ Compensation
- A copy of the First Report of Injury or Illness
- A fraud statement the employee must read, sign, and return to the DWC
- A medical records release to sign and return to the DWC
- Medical mileage reimbursement forms
Florida Workers’ Compensation Deadlines
Important workers’ comp deadlines for Florida employers include:
- Reporting work-related injuries and illnesses within seven days of being informed of one
- Submitting wage information to their insurers within 14 days of learning about an injury that will keep an employee from work for more than seven days
Employers also need to keep records on all occupational injuries and disease for at least two and a half years.
Important deadlines for Florida workers include:
- Reporting injuries to employers within 30 days of the incident and reporting illnesses within 30 days of diagnosis
- Filing a claim for benefit with Florida’s DWC within two years of the incident
Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance Resources
- Contact information
Division of Workers’ Compensation
200 East Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0318
Claims: (800) 342-1741
Exemption/Compliance: (850) 413-1609
- Key forms
- First Report of Injury or Illness: Employers can use this form to report workplace injuries and illnesses to their insurer, and they should send a copy to the injured employee
- Wage Statement: Employers use this form to report an injured employee’s wages to their insurer
- Request for Wage Loss/Temporary Partial Benefits: Employee must submit this form to the insurer’s claim adjuster every two weeks
- Required posters
- Online resources
While there are exemptions available, most Florida employers need workers’ compensation insurance. This can be expensive, but it also means you don’t have to pay for your injured employee’s medical bills and other costs out of your own pocket. Moreover, both the state and some insurers offer business owners savings opportunities, so be sure to get plenty of quotes and to ask about discounts before you buy a policy.