Delaware law requires businesses that have one or more employees to provide workers’ compensation insurance. This policy provides financial protection against work-related injuries.
Every business that has employees must have workers’ compensation insurance to operate in Delaware.
This requirement covers corporate officers as well as employees. However, up to eight corporate officers can opt out of workers’ comp coverage at any one company.
Although the vast majority of Delaware employees must be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, some types of workers are exempt, including:
In most cases, Delaware business owners do not have to be included in their company’s workers’ comp insurance plan. Sole proprietors, independent contractors and partners are not required to carry this coverage.
Even when it's not required, you should consider purchasing workers' compensation. Individual health insurance plans often deny work-related claims, which means you could end up paying medical costs out of pocket if you're injured on the job.
To save money on workers' comp insurance, it's important to make sure you classify your employees correctly. Employees with desk jobs or other jobs with a low risk of injury cost less to insure. This also helps you avoid misclassification fines.
In some cases, small business owners can choose to buy pay-as-you-go workers' compensation. This type of workers' comp policy has a low upfront premium, and lets you make payments based on your actual payroll instead of estimated payroll. It's useful for businesses that hire seasonal help or have fluctuating numbers of employees.
Finally, a documented safety program can help lower workers' comp costs. A safer workplace means fewer accidents, which helps keep your premium low.
Workers' compensation insurance covers costs when an employee is injured on the job or develops an occupational disease. It pays for medical treatment and also provides partial wage replacement while the employee is unable to work.
Policies usually include employer's liability insurance, which can help cover legal expenses if an employee blames their employer for an injury. However, the exclusive remedy provision in most workers' comp policies prohibits an employee from suing their employer if they accept workers' comp benefits.
The Delaware Department of Labor's Office of Workers’ Compensation regulates workers' compensation in the state. Injured workers must first notify their employer in writing and request medical services. The employer must submit a First Report of Occupational Injury or Disease within 10 days to the Office of Workers’ Compensation and their insurance carrier.
Workers' compensation provides claimants with:
Explore the Delaware Workers' Compensation Office's FAQs for more info.
Delaware business owners can compare quotes and purchase a policy from private insurance companies. (Insureon offers this service with its online insurance marketplace.) If they’re unable to qualify, they can buy it from the Delaware Workers’ Compensation Insurance Plan, the state’s workers' compensation insurance provider for high-risk businesses.
Delaware employers also have the option to self-insure their workers’ compensation claims. This means they’ll pay for their own workers’ comp medical and rehabilitation costs rather than submit them to an insurance carrier.
If you fail to comply with Delaware workers' compensation laws, you may be fined an amount equal to the insurance premium you should have paid, times three, for one year.
If an employee dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness, death benefits can be awarded to the surviving spouse, children, and other dependents.
In Delaware, any person who was financially dependent on the deceased employee may file for workers’ compensation benefits. If the worker was totally responsible for supporting the dependent, the death benefit would equal two-thirds of the person’s average pay. However, if the deceased worker was less than 100% responsible for supporting dependents, then the weekly death benefit would decrease.
For example, if the worker provided for 60% of a family’s income and their spouse provided for the remaining 40%, then the weekly death benefit would be 60% of the worker’s pre-injury or illness weekly pay. All eligible dependents would share this benefit.
Death benefits are available to survivors for a minimum of five years and a maximum of 12 years, depending on the situation. Benefits may sometimes run longer in cases where a child was disabled before the worker died or when children are still in school (to age 18) or enrolled full-time in post-secondary accredited education (to age 23).
In cases where the beneficiary is someone other than a surviving spouse or child, benefits are limited to a fixed dollar amount, which is revised annually.
The estates of Delaware workers are eligible to receive $7,000 for funeral expenses. This is paid regardless of whether the deceased worker had dependents.
A workers’ compensation settlement is an agreement between the parties that will resolve a workers’ compensation claim. This benefits both the employee and the employer. A settlement in a workers’ compensation claim is a full and final resolution.
Settlements aren’t mandatory for employees. However, if the worker has reached maximum medical recovery or will not need additional treatment, they can agree to accept a lump sum in exchange for closing the claim. Every Delaware workers’ compensation settlement must go before the Delaware Office of Workers’ Compensation.
In the state of Delaware, the statute of limitations for filing an initial workers’ comp claim is two years in case of injury and one year from the time the employee learned that they had contracted an occupational disease. Employees are required to report workplace injuries within 10 days and then file a workers’ compensation claim within 90 days.
If you are ready to explore workers’ comp insurance options for your Delaware business, start a free online application today to compare quotes from top-rated providers.