What If I Have Employees and No Workers Compensation Insurance?

So you’re an employer looking for ways to save money and trim your business expenses. There are plenty of areas you can probably pinch and save but let me tell you, workers compensation insurance shouldn’t be one of them and let me explain why.

The very core of workers compensation insurance is that it provides medical care for employees who are injured in the course of employment. Beyond medical care,  Workers Comp insurance provides temporary and/or permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits or vocational rehabilitation and death benefits. Workers Comp is a trade-off between employers and employees. Employees receive prompt effective medical treatment for on-the-job injuries or illnesses no matter who is at fault and, in return, are prevented from suing employers over those injuries.

[Did I bore you yet?]

Putting the definition of workers compensation insurance aside, one might ask:

“Does an employer have to purchase workers’ compensation insurance?”

Yes. California law requires all employers to have coverage for their California employees, even if they have only one employee. (This applies in all states, not just CA. I am using CA as an example since I reside here).

What happens if an employer is unlawfully uninsured and an employee is injured?

According to the WCIRB, it is a criminal offense for an employer to be unlawfully uninsured regardless of whether or not an employee is injured. California Labor Code specifies that it is a misdemeanor punishable by either a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year, or both. In addition, the state issues penalties of up to $100,000 against illegally uninsured employers. If an employee is injured, an employer also opens himself/herself up to liability lawsuits from injured employees.

Would you be willing to take that gamble? The way I look at it, an annual insurance premium is nothing in comparison to the possible fines and penalties one might face should they decide to take that gamble. Please, find other ways to save on your business expenses, workers compensation insurance isn’t the place to do it.

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About Jim Kinmartin - Business Insurance & Risk Management Broker

Jim is a California licensed Property & Casualty AND Accident & Health insurance agent working at the ISU - Olson Duncan Insurance brokerage in Torrance, CA. He grew up in Fullerton, CA and graduated from Servite High School in Anaheim and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and currently lives in Long Beach, CA. Have questions? Just ask! Or, follow Jim on Twitter at @JimKinmartin

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