Workers’ Compensation Insurance
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Workers' compensation insurance certificate

A certificate of workers' compensation insurance is a document that provides proof of coverage and summarizes important details about your policy in a single page.

What is workers’ compensation insurance coverage?

Workers’ compensation insurance is required in most states for businesses with one or more employees. Depending on the laws in your state, it may also be required for sole proprietors in riskier professions, such as certain types of construction contractors.

Workers' comp covers the medical costs and lost wages for work-related injuries and illnesses. Your regular health insurance is unlikely to cover injuries arising from a work-related mishap.

Most workers’ comp policies also cover your legal costs if you're faced with an employee lawsuit over a workplace injury or illness.

Of course, if you need a workers’ comp insurance certificate, you’ll first have to buy a policy.

When do you need a certificate of workers’ compensation insurance?

Workers’ compensation insurance is required in nearly every state for businesses with employees. A certificate of workers’ comp insurance is the document you may share as your proof of workers' comp coverage.

Proof of insurance is often needed when you:

  • Sign a client contract
  • Enter a business partnership
  • Provide services to a government entity
  • Apply for a license (especially in the building trades)

A Certificate of Insurance (COI) reassures your clients that if one of your employees suffers a work-related injury or illness, you’ll be able to cover the costs of medical bills, lost wages, and employee lawsuits. It also shows that the certificate holder is in compliance with state workers’ comp laws.

Workers’ compensation regulations vary from state to state, but any business with employees will likely need workers’ compensation coverage. In some states, any subcontractors you hire will also be considered employees.

Do I need proof of workers' comp if I'm self-employed?

Many states require sole proprietors to have workers’ comp coverage in riskier professions, such as the building trades. For example, California requires sole proprietors to have workers’ comp if they work in asbestos abatement, concrete, roofingtree service, or HVAC contracting, even if they don’t have any employees.

Even when not required by law, sole proprietors and independent contractors may also need to purchase a workers’ compensation policy and produce a workers’ comp certificate to fulfill the terms of a contract.

Depending on where they are located, self-employed business owners may be eligible for a workers' comp ghost policy. While this policy offers no real coverage, it can help satisfy legal or contractual requirements for a business for a low fee.

Many sole proprietors also buy workers’ comp regardless of requirements because it can cover their medical bills for a work-related illness or injury, whereas regular health insurance will not. Additionally, workers’ comp can help offset some of their lost wages if a workplace injury leaves them unable to work for a while.

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What are the risks of going without workers’ comp insurance?

One of the biggest risks of going without workers’ comp insurance is leaving yourself at risk of an employee lawsuit and unpaid medical bills in case of a mishap.

You might also face fines and a license suspension or revocation, depending on the laws in your state.

Here are a few examples of state penalties for failing to comply with workers’ comp laws:

  • California punishes employers with up to a year in jail or a fine of no less than $10,000’; or both.
  • Illinois levees fines of $500 for each day of noncompliance, with a minimum fine of $10,000.
  • New York allows misdemeanor or felony charges against noncompliant employers, with fines ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. An additional fine of $2,000 can be levied for every 10 days without coverage.
  • Pennsylvania punishes noncompliant businesses with a third-degree felony, with a fine of $15,000 and up to seven years in jail.

What information do certificates of insurance include?

A workers’ compensation certificate typically includes the following information about your workers’ compensation insurance policy:

  • The name of the policyholder (your name or business name, as the insured)
  • The name of your insurance company and its mailing address
  • Your workers’ compensation policy number
  • Whether business owners, partners, LLC members, or corporate officers are included or excluded from coverage
  • Your policy limits, if your policy includes employer's liability insurance
  • Anyone listed as an additional insured under the policy
  • A policy’s effective date and expiration date
  • A description of your business

One thing you won’t find on your certificate of insurance is the names of other companies listed as an additional insured. A workers’ comp policy is written to cover your employees, not other companies.

You can, however, add a waiver of subrogation to your workers’ comp, if any of your customers require one. This waiver gives an exemption to a customer that would prohibit your insurance provider from pursuing a claim against the customer over one of your employee’s injuries.

To see what a workers comp COI looks like, check out this sample ACORD certificate of liability insurance [PDF].

How do you get a workers’ compensation certificate of insurance?

View video transcript.

Hey there! Yeah, up here in the corner. Good news: You've purchased your policy to protect your business! But that's only the beginning...

A licensed expert will email you a certificate of insurance the day you buy a policy. I'd do it, but, you know, I'm an animated talking head.

The certificate means peace of mind. And you can access it on the Insureon online customer portal where you can review policy info and all of your insurance documentation.

Need additional assistance? Or want to make changes? Yeah, no problem! Call toll free, or reach out to a dedicated account manager with questions about billing and claims.

We're with you now, and as you grow. Behind the scenes, but there when you need us. Insureon. Protection is peace of mind.

To obtain a certificate of insurance, you must have an active insurance policy. If you don't have coverage, you can complete Insureon's easy online insurance application to get quotes from top-rated carriers.

Choose the workers' comp policy that best matches your needs, and an Insureon agent can help finalize your policy details. Once your policy is active, you'll receive a certificate of insurance.

If you already have an active policy, contact your Insureon agent or log in to your account to download or request a certificate.

Get workers’ comp insurance from trusted carriers with Insureon

Complete Insureon’s easy online application today to compare workers' compensation quotes from top-rated U.S. insurance carriers. You can also speak with an insurance agent about all types of small business insurance. Once you buy insurance coverage, you can download or request a certificate from our Customer Portal.

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Updated: February 5, 2024

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