What is Workers Comp Insurance
Workers comp, or workers compensation insurance, is a specific type of insurance policy designed to provide for workers who are injured while on the job. Workers comp is required in all 50 states, and each state maintains its own workers compensation office to handle questions, concerns and program oversight (the federal government has its own office to cover federal employees). In this post, learn more about workers comp, how it works and what it covers.
What Workers Comp Insurance Covers
Generally speaking, workers compensation insurance provides what are called “workers comp benefits” to employees injured on the job. Different states have different laws and mandates for how benefits should be allotted and disbursed, so there is no one uniform policy to fit all situations.
However, these are the typical benefits provided:
– Wage replacement up to two-thirds of your regular salary.
– Medical benefits to diagnose and treat your injury, including medication.
– In some cases, rehabilitation, assistive devices and services (such as counseling or pain management therapy) are also covered.
– If you cannot return to your old job because of the injury, benefits may extend to job retraining.
– In most states, if you die in a work-related incident, your workers comp benefits will cover death/funeral/burial expense and financial compensation to dependent family members you leave behind.
4 Main Types of Disability Covered by Workers Comp
For the purposes of workers compensation benefits, policies recognize four different types of work-related disability.
In each of these cases, individual workers comp policies typically provide benefits, but may do so differently. As well, many policies require a waiting period before assigning a category designation and distributing benefits (the waiting period is usually at least a week or longer). What is good to know is that your benefits are not taxable, so even if they amount to only two-thirds of your former pay, you can keep all of what you receive in benefits.
– Temporary partial. Your injury prevents you from doing some but not all parts of your job, but just for now – not forever.
– Temporary total. Your injury prevents you from doing all parts of your job, but just for now – not forever.
– Permanent partial. Your injury permanently impairs you in returning to your former job or something like it (so you can work, but not up to your former standard).
– Permanent total. Your injury prevents you from ever returning to your former job or something like it.
Exceptions to Work-Related Injuries
While workers comp insurance is designed to take care of employees injured on the job, certain specific types of injuries are excluded. These include self-inflicted injuries, injuries sustained while committing a crime, injuries sustained in an act that violated the company’s employee policy and injuries sustained outside of the job function.
As well, if the employee is found to be under the influence (alcohol, drugs) at the time of the injury, workers comp is much less likely to cover it.
Injuries Can be One-Time or Built Up Over Time
It is a common misunderstanding that the only injuries workers comp covers are sudden injuries, such as falling off a ladder. If your injury has built up over time, perhaps from overuse, you will also likely be eligible to collect workers comp benefits.
As well, if you have illnesses that can be directly linked to workplace conditions or activities, such as lung disease, IBS, heart condition issues or similar others, you can typically collect workers comp benefits.
If you are working off-site (i.e. not at your main workplace site) but you are injured doing work-related tasks, you are typically still covered under workers comp. This can even extend to include work-related socializing, meetings, errands and trainings.
Determining Whether You Have Workers Comp Coverage or Not
One thing many employees do not realize is that not every employee automatically has workers comp coverage with their employer. Also, state maintains its own set of requirements for which employers are required to maintain workers comp insurance for their employees (this can relate to type of industry, size of company and other factors).
Rather than assuming you have workers comp if you need it, it is always best to simply ask. If you do not have benefits, there is the option to purchase your own independent policy from an insurer licensed in your state.