You may have heard the term “workers’ comp” thrown around a lot, especially in Atlanta where a lot of industrial and unconventional industries thrive. But what exactly is workers’ compensation insurance? What does it cover? Why does your business need it? We’re here to help you answer all these questions and more.
So, What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Although many of us don’t like to think about Murphy’s Law (whatever can go wrong, will go wrong), it’s nice to be prepared for it. Worker’s compensation is a state-mandated way that a business can cover an employee’s medical bills and part of their wages if they’re hurt or made sick at work. It can even cover death benefits in a very worst-case scenario.
It may seem like the type of insurance that you’ll never use as an employer, especially if you promote workplace safety as a number one priority. However, you can think of it as a way to protect your business as well. Workers’ comp claims provide an alternative to an employee lawsuit. When someone gets hurt or sick as a result of working, the last thing anyone wants to do is go through a lengthy legal process. So, by simply filing a workers’ compensation claim, you and your employees know that there is a system in place to take care of everyone should an accident happen.
What Kind of Workers’ Comp Coverage Do I need in Georgia?
Since workers’ compensation laws are determined by the state, the amount of workers comp. coverage you need will vary. The Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) outlines the requirements and minimum amount of coverage that business owners would need across our state.
What Are the Requirements for Workers Compensation in Georgia?
So, for Georgia, these are the minimum requirements that the WCA lists:
1. You must have three or more employees in the same business to maintain your coverage.
2. You must post both the Official Notice regarding workers compensation and the Bill of Rights for the Injured Worker where every employee is able to see and reference them.
3. You must keep a record of all employee injuries. If an employee has to be out of work for more than a week, the employer has 21 days from the notice of injury to file a report with the Board.
4. You must get your coverage from an authorized insurance carrier or get the Board’s approval to self-insure.
(But to be completely honest, self-insuring can be a total pain considering some of the start-up costs are a $250,000 minimum deposit to the WCA AND the fact that you’ll be covering an employee injury out-of-pocket.) Luckily, you’ve got experts right here get you the best rates on authorized workers comp carriers! Call 404.352.0304 today for a free quote tailored to your Atlanta business.
5. You must establish a “Panel of Physicians” who can provide medical treatment to an injured employee.
6. You must be able to pay the medical costs of the employee directly to the treatment provider within 30 days of being billed, and you must reimburse the employee for mileage to receive treatment if your employee files a mileage claim.
7. You have to issue weekly payments the injured employee for lost work time within 21 days of the incident.
How Much In Workers Compensation Do I Need to Pay in Georgia?
So, exactly how much in wages do you need to pay an injured employee? The usual rate that the WCA states is about two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wages. There are also minimum and maximum amounts of workers’ compensation that are paid. The range of weekly compensation can be anywhere from $50 – $575/week.
Sometimes, the WCA also limits the dollar amount or amount of time that an employer pays for workers compensation. For example, the cap on paying TTD benefit payments is about 7 years (with no dollar amount), while the cap on paying TPD benefits is an amount of $134,050. The specifics of what these acronyms mean are pretty tricky but can be found on the WCA website or in your workers’ compensation notices.
They also list regulations for, again, the worst-case scenario of death benefits. In the event of employee death, an employer must pay a maximum of $7,500 in funeral costs and $575 per week to the family of the deceased until the payment total reaches $230,000.
How Can I Prevent a Workers Compensation Claim?
There are a few ways to make sure that a workplace accident doesn’t turn into a workers’ comp claim. As an employer, it’s your job to make sure that all of your employees know the safety measures to follow, are trained on these safety measures, and that you investigate any incidents that may have resulted from not following safety practices. (And not only will this help keep your employees safe, but it can also help you lower your workers’ comp premiums.)
It may also be a good idea to implement a Return-To-Work program at your company, where an employee may return to work with modified duties according to their injury.
In general, you want to make sure that your employees trust you and the company they work for to take care of them in a worst-case scenario. Your workers should know that if they’re injured, they can not only feel safe in filing a workers compensation claim as soon as possible but that they will be taken care of if an on-the-job accident happens.
Whether you’re in a high or low-risk industry, our insurance experts are here to learn about your business and what type of workers compensation plan will work for your Atlanta business. Fill out our online quote form or call us today at 404.352.0304 to speak with an agent about how you can get the best rates on the perfect workers’ comp plan for your business.