Your employees are the backbone of your business. They work hard every day to make your company successful. They’re invaluable and dedicated, and they make your business run like a well-oiled machine. But sometimes accidents happen in the workplace. If one of your employees gets hurt on the job, you want to be able to do everything you can to make sure that they get the medical care they need. It’s also important to make sure that they don’t lose too much of their income because of their injury or illness. That’s where workers’ compensation insurance comes in – workers’ comp is a vital part of your business insurance plan.
Now, there are a lot of employees and a lot of different accidents or mishaps that they could encounter at work. Below we’ve compiled some of the questions that you might have about workers’ comp insurance.
How did workers’ comp get started?
In the 1800s, the labor force was increasing, meaning that the number of accidents went up, too. If someone got hurt on the job, they’d usually end up suing their employer. But in 1949, the workers’ comp system was set up. With worker’s comp, employees got benefits to cover their medical expenses and lost work time if they were hurt on the job. The only caveat was that workers gave up their right to sue their employers over work-related injuries. It’s a mutually beneficial system.
Who gets workers’ comp benefits?
Workers’ comp benefits are given to employees who get hurt or become sick because of their job. Let’s illustrate with an example. Say you have a pair of employees—Joe and Stan—carrying a heavy box. They use the proper lifting technique, just like you trained them to, and do everything right. But Joe accidentally loses his balance, and the box falls, landing on his foot. It’s bad. You know right away that he needs to go to the hospital to get an x-ray. It turns out that the foot is broken and that Joe needs some pretty extensive medical care and physical therapy. He would receive workers’ comp benefits.
What exactly do the benefits do?
With workers’ comp, the medical bills would be covered. Even travel expenses related to the medical care may be taken care of. Any necessary rehab is paid for, too. Basically, your employees wouldn’t be responsible for paying their medical bills if they’re hurt on the job, so they get to hold on to their hard-earned money.
Speaking of income, let’s visit Joe again. Joe needs to take some time off to make sure that his foot heals properly. Workers’ comp also reimburses him for wages that he lost due to his injury, so Joe’s family is provided for even though he’s not able to work. These are called income benefits, aka indemnity benefits, aka disability benefits. They’re calculated as a part of an average weekly wage (AWW.)
So, thanks to your business’s insurance, Joe gets the medical care he needs, and everything heals well. Now, Joe broke his foot. It hurt and it took a while for it to heal, but in the end, he was okay and made a full recovery. But say that something really terrible happened and one of your employees died in a work-related incident. Workers’ comp would give death benefits to the employee’s family and dependents, so financially they’re provided for.
What’s an IME?
An IME, or independent medical exam, is an exam given to an injured employee by a different doctor than the one who first provided care. As an employer, you can request an IME to get a second opinion about the original diagnosis and treatment plan, as can the insurance carrier.
How are the weekly wages calculated for reimbursement?
The AWW (average weekly wage) is found by taking the total of the employee’s wages for the past thirteen weeks and dividing it by thirteen. A portion of the AWW (determined by the severity of the injury) is given to the employee as their income benefits. In addition to the wages, the employee may also be eligible to receive compensation for any food or housing benefits given by the employer.
How long are employees eligible for workers’ comp benefits?
Employees who have been injured on the job are entitled to benefits for as long as they are medically “approved” to take time off of work. They would have their medical bills paid and their wages reimbursed for the duration of this “approved time off” period.
What are my responsibilities as an employer?
As far as workers’ comp goes, there are a few things you have to do as an employer. You are obligated to:
- Provide coverage for your employees and understand that you are liable for injuries that they might incur on the job.
- Pay the insurance premiums.
- Provide your insurance carrier with audit payroll numbers.
- Keep your workplace safe.
- Inform your carrier about any work-related employee injury ASAP.
- Investigate injuries.
Workers’ comp is essential for businesses. It allows them to help their employees and to provide for them if they get hurt. It also means that employees don’t have to sue their employers anymore, which is appreciated. Basically, workers’ comp ensures that everyone is better off if disaster strikes.
If you want to get a quote for workers’ compensation insurance – or other business insurance – we can help you out with that! All you have to do is fill out our quote form or give us a call today. We’d be happy to help with any of your insurance needs.